Monday, November 24, 2008


One of my criteria for an ideal world, happiness, is mathematically equivalent to life expectancy; perhaps because the longer we live, the more likely we are to achieve what we want to in life. This correlation dodges the question of what “happiness” would specifically require. As I’ve suggested in several different ways before, a possible answer to this question may be that everyone would be able to inhabit an environment conducive to their personality type.

Arguably the most successful model of personality is the Big Five, summarized by the acronym “OCEAN” which denotes its basic dimensions: Originality, Consolidation, Extroversion, Accommodation, and Need for stability. Originality is a measure of openness to new experiences. Consolidation describes how focused we are. Extroversion identifies how comfortable we are with other people. Accommodation involves our willingness to go along with what others want. Need for stability measures how emotionally impervious we are to our environment.

In a society that offers opportunities for people on either extreme of these personality dimensions to thrive, structure and lack of structure would be available in all aspects of life, as would high and low social interaction. Structure would help the incurious, focused, accommodating, and neurotic among us; while lack of structure would serve the curious, spontaneous, competitive, and self-contained. Opportunities to interact with lots of people would be available for extroverts, those who can easily handle stress, and people who prefer to serve the needs of others; while more isolated environments would be provided for introverts, people who are easily stressed, and those who are only interested in their own success.

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