A new study suggests that key to happiness has nothing to do with material items or socio-economic surrounding, but rather lies in your own personality. Researchers looked at the mood and behavior of young people in countries across the globe and found that, regardless of the culture, those who felt or acted more extroverted in daily situations were happier. Although similar studies conducted in the West have shown the same results, this is the first time researchers have proved this true on such an international scale.

The study was conducted on college students living in the United States, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Venezuela and is published online in the Journal of Research in Personality. The ultimate goal of the study was to explore the link between extroversion and happiness in more community-based cultures such as those in Asia and South America. Most of the previous studies on happiness and personality were conducted in Western nations, where a high value is placed on independence and individualism, according to a recent press release. In the most recent study, researchers found they still got the same results, no matter their geographical location. “We are not the first to show that being more extroverted in daily behavior can lead to more positive moods. However, we’re probably the first to extend this finding to a variety of cultures”, the study’s author, Timothy Church, explained in the press release.

Results showed that many cultures share similar major personality traits and that being outgoing may be one way to increase happiness in all of them. “Cross-cultural psychologists like to talk about psychic unity. Despite all of our cultural differences, the way personality is organized seems to be pretty comparable across cultural groups,” Church concluded.

Extroverts are often stereotyped as party animals that like to speak loudly, and be the center of attention. They are more likely to take risks, are better able to manipulate and charm others, and overall have more of a chance of getting what they want with their dominating personality.

The evidence from this study also showed that 40 to 50 percent of the variation in personality traits has a genetic basis. These figures coincide with a previous study carried out at Edinburgh University in Scotland. Researchers there studied more than 800 sets of identical and non-identical twins. This was done to understand which had more of a play in personality; genetics or upbringing. The study’s results showed that identical twins were twice as likely as non-identical twins to share the same personality traits. This further backed the idea that DNA has more to do with personality than science has previously believed.

Source: Ching CM, Church AT, Katigbak MS, et al. The manifestation of traits in everyday behavior and affect: A five-culture study. Journal of Research in Personality. 2014

Archontaki D, Lewis GJ, Bates TC. Genetic Influences on Psychological Well-Being: A Nationally Representative Twin Study. Journal of Personality. 2013.