Interaction of physical activity and personality in the subjective wellbeing of older adults in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom

Bill Cheuk Long CHAN*, Michelle LUCIANO, Billy LEE

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Subjective wellbeing (SWB) has been widely accepted as one of the most important elements of successful ageing. The present study explores the impact of two well-established correlates of SWB: physical activity and personality. Physical activity and each of the Big Five personality traits are consistent predictors of SWB, but there has been little research on whether certain personality traits enhance or hinder the psychological benefits of physical activity in older adults. This study examines the interactions of leisure-time physical activity and personality traits on SWB, and whether such interactions vary between older adults in Hong Kong (HK) and older adults in the United Kingdom (UK). Altogether, 349 participants (178 HK, 171 UK; 157 males, 192 female) aged 50 years or above (mean age = 61.84 ± 8.46 years old) completed an online assessment of: (1) leisure-time physical activity (Godin–Shephard Leisure-Time Physical Activity Questionnaire); (2) personality traits (Big Five Inventory); and (3) SWB (Satisfaction with Life Scale, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule). Results showed that agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, openness to experience, and physical activity were all significantly related to SWB in the expected direction. The relationship between physical activity and SWB was moderated by extraversion and by openness to experience: higher levels of these two traits significantly enhanced the relationship. None of the interactions varied between the HK and UK samples. The expected negative relationship between neuroticism and SWB, however, was significantly stronger in the UK sample than in the HK sample. The findings of the present study indicate that personality needs to be considered when promoting and providing physical activity for older adults, although more research is needed to further explore how this can work effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
Number of pages18
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from the 2018 Singapore Conference on Applied Psychology (SCAP 2018).
Publisher Copyright: © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Older adults
  • Personality
  • Physical activity
  • Subjective wellbeing


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