A Longitudinal Examination of Personality and Satisfaction in College

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2014

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



Using two longitudinal data sets, we explored the relationship between personality and satisfaction across college. We compared the temperamental and instrumental theories for relationship between personality and satisfaction by testing whether college peer experiences were able to help explain why personality predicts satisfaction. Additionally, we compared two hypotheses, the social participation hypotheses and the social reactivity hypothesis, that attempt to explain how peer experiences would impact satisfaction. In both studies, personality traits, particularly extraversion and neuroticism, predicted a variety of peer experiences, including person-environment fit and peer-reported experiences. These peer experiences, in turn, affected how satisfied participants were as college seniors, thus lending support to the instrumental theories of personality and life satisfaction. Our tests of social participation and social reactivity hypotheses supported the social participation hypothesis, but offered mixed results for social reactivity. In sum, peer experiences play an important role in why personality predicts satisfaction in college.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Joshua J. Jackson

Committee Members

Simine Vazire, Tammy English


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K74Q7RXK

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