Personality traits and health behaviors as predictors of subjective wellbeing among a multiethnic sample of university-attending emerging young adults
Keywords:College students, health behaviors, personality, wellbeing, emerging adulthood, physical activity
This study examines the relative contributions of individual characteristics of personality and health behaviors to subjective wellbeing among university-attending emerging young adults. Three dimensions of wellbeing were assessed: affective (positive affect), physical/mental (overall health), and cognitive (quality of life). The sample (N=599) consisted of students of various racial/ethnic backgrounds, including White/non-Hispanic, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Black/African American from a large public university in Southern California (28% male, 72% female; mean age = 20.85, SD = 1.84). Respondents completed the Student Health Survey, which consisted of items on basic demographics, substance use, health behaviors, Affect Balance Scale, Extraversion and Neuroticism subscales of the Big Five Taxonomy of Personality, Quality of Life scale, and an online food-intake survey for seven days. Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations were calculated as preliminary analysis and hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine how each set of predictors contributes to the overall predictive ability and relative importance on subjective wellbeing. Extraverted individuals reported more positive affect and higher quality of life. Neuroticism was associated with less positive affect, poorer health, and lower quality of life. Physical activity was consistently associated with subjective wellbeing, accounting for 33%, 13%, and 32% of the total variance in positive affect, overall health, and quality of life, respectively. Findings indicate that health behaviors are important correlates of three dimensions of wellbeing over and above the effects of personality traits. Implications for designing health and wellness programs to improve the wellbeing and quality of life among young adults are discussed.
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