The Dynamic Role of Personality States in Mediating the Relationship Between Extraversion and Positive Affect


  • We would like to thank Mike Furr, Dustin Wood, and William Revelle for comments on an earlier draft. Preparation of this article was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01 MH70571 and by a Kirby Faculty Fellowship.


One of the most noteworthy and robust findings in personality psychology is the relationship between extraversion and positive affect. Existing theories have debated the origins and nature of this relationship, offering both structural/fixed and environmental/dynamic explanations. We tested the novel and straightforward dynamic hypothesis that part of the reason trait extraversion predicts trait positive affect is through an increased propensity to enact extraverted states, which in turn leads to experiencing more positive affect states.

We report 5 experience sampling studies (and a meta-analysis of primary studies) conducted in natural environments and laboratory settings in which undergraduate participants (N = 241) provided ratings of trait extraversion, trait positive affect, extraversion states, and positive affect states. Results of primary studies and the meta-analysis showed that relationships between trait extraversion and trait positive affect were partially mediated by aggregated extraversion states and aggregated positive affect states.

The results supported our dynamic hypothesis and suggested that dynamic explanations of the relationship between trait extraversion and trait positive affect are compatible with structural explanations. An important implication of these findings is that individuals might be able to increase their happiness by self-regulating their extraverted states.