The link between Personality Traits and Relationship Satisfaction
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The link between Personality Traits and Relationship Satisfaction

personality-traits-and-relationship-satisfaction

The concept of personality is often an area of interest to many of us. You may find yourself filling out questionnaires online to get a deeper understanding of yourself and to find out how you function. Some people even put their different personality types in their Social media bios – even on Bumble! This might strike off another curious question in your mind- how do these personality traits reflect in our daily behaviour? In this article, we explore how one’s personality affects their relationship satisfaction

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What are personality traits?

Personality traits refer to specific dimensions along which individuals differ in consistent, stable ways. Personality traits are like different parts of your character that make you who you are. They’re the aspects or traits you possess that describe how you act, think, and feel. The trait theory is one of the models in psychology to assess one’s personality. Trait theories focus on identifying these dimensions along which people differ and how much they differ. Earlier, psychologists clustered traits and evaluated people according to these clusters.

Related: Personality Complexes: Understanding Different Sides of Yourself

Lately, there has been the emergence of a Big Five model of personality, which helps us understand people’s personalities concerning 5 traits. The five-factor model of personality, as conceptualised by Robert McCrae and Paul Costa, proposes 5 basic personality traits that they believe can be universal to the entirety of the human population. The model falls under the umbrella of the Trait perspective and therefore explains personality in terms of internal characteristics presumed to determine behaviour.

A person’s personality can be described based on where they fall on the continuum of each of these 5 traits. The five traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism) are commonly referred to using the acronym OCEAN. Although it is only a cumulation of a total of five traits, the blending of five personality dimensions could account for enormous variations in personality patterns. Believers also argue that it captures nuances of behaviour within particular situations and thus serves predictive purposes more effectively.

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The-Big-Five-model-of-personality-traits

Five Personality Factors

The Big Five model of personality explains one’s personality based on the following 5 traits:

  • Openness: It exists on the continuum of imaginative, witty, and having broad interests at one end to down-to-earth, simple, and having narrow interests at the other. On the spectrum, it reflects Openness to closeness to experience. It shows an imaginative, curious and excitable personality.
  • Conscientiousness: It exists on the continuum of well-organised, careful, self-disciplined, responsible, and precise at one end to disorganised, impulsive, careless, and undependable at the other. On the spectrum, it reflects Conscientiousness to lack of direction. It reflects an efficient, organised and thorough personality.
  • Extraversion: Ranging from energetic, enthusiastic, sociable, and talkative at one end to retiring, sober, reserved, silent, and cautious at the other. Reflects Extraversion to Introversion. It reflects a sociable, outgoing and energetic personality.
  • Agreeableness: It exists on the continuum of good-natured, cooperative, trusting, and helpful at one end to irritable, suspicious, and uncooperative at the other. On the one end, it has Agreeableness and on the other there is Antagonism. It reflects a forgiving, warm and sympathetic personality type.
  • Neuroticism: It exists on the continuum of poised, calm, composed, and not hypochondriacal at one end to nervous, anxious, high-strung, and hypochondriacal at the other. It has Neuroticism on one end and Emotional stability on the other. It reflects a tense, shy and moody personality type.

Related: What is an INTJ Personality Type?

Research on personality traits linked with high relationship satisfaction

Researchers have conducted extensive studies on personality traits linked to higher relationship satisfaction. A longitudinal study by Asendorpf & Wilpers examined how personality influences social relationships over time and vice versa. It found that personality had an impact on relationships, but not the other way around.

The study followed 132 students for 18 months after they entered university. It assessed their Big Five personality traits, along with factors like Sociability and Shyness, and tracked their significant social relationships. Some participants also kept diaries of their social interactions.

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The study found that traits like Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness predicted various aspects of relationships, such as the number of peer relationships, conflicts with peers, and experiencing romantic feelings. However, the quality of relationships did not predict changes in personality traits, nor were changes in relationship quality linked to changes in personality traits.

Another study aimed to investigate the associations between the Big Five personality traits and relationship satisfaction from three distinct perspectives: self-perception, partner perception, and meta-perception. It was seen that neuroticism was negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction whereas agreeableness and conscientiousness were positively related to relationship satisfaction across all perspectives. Substantial associations between extraversion and relationship satisfaction were also found.

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Traits

Thus, we see from these two studies that the personality traits of extraversion, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness are found to be linked to higher satisfaction in relationships. People high on these traits are found to have better, more satisfying relationships. It was also seen that neuroticism was linked to a lower level of relationship satisfaction. People high on this trait may find themselves in relationships that may be unhealthy.

Related: The Bright and Dark Faces of Personality

The logic behind this

If we look into it, the explanation behind correlating these personality traits to higher relationship satisfaction may be simple enough. People high on conscientiousness are careful, responsible and disciplined. A partner in a romantic relationship may be the one who always steps up, who can regulate fights and takes into consideration their partner’s feelings. All these are essential to having a successful relationship.

Related: Human Psychology Theories on Personality Development

A higher level of Extraversion may be a strong factor because it may enable you to be energetic and enthusiastic, making your partner feel loved and cared for. It may be indicative of a willingness to participate and to be with your partner. A sociable and talkative personality may also enable you to not have a lot of issues with communication, which can be a major reason for conflict in relationships.

Agreeableness also becomes an important trait to possess. A cooperative and helpful partner who supports you in times of distress is very important. This trait is also indicative of trust– which is the foundation of a relationship.

A negative correlation between Neuroticism and relationship satisfaction also seems plausible. Someone with a high neuroticism score may always be anxious about their relationship falling off. It can foster feelings of jealousy and lack of trust. Over time, it may start to greatly affect your partner and your relationship.

While researchers haven’t finalized the results of these studies, they can illuminate how and why certain personality traits may impact one’s relationship. This article traces studies that show the personality traits that have or do not have higher relationship satisfaction. We also look at possible reasons for explaining the findings of the studies.

References +
  • Asendorpf, J. B., & Wilpers, S. (1998). Personality effects on social relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(6), 1531–1544. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.74.6.1531
  • Schaffhuser, K., Allemand, M., & Martin, M. (2014). Personality Traits and relationship satisfaction in Intimate Couples: Three Perspectives on Personality. European Journal of Personality, 28(2), 120–133. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.1948
  • Baron & Misra, 5th edition

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