Personality and well-being in Black and White South African emerging adults

Jan Alewyn Nel*, B.G. Adams, Fons J. R. van de Vijver, Sumaya Laher, Johann Louw, Lerato M. Makhale, Luzelle Naude, Florance Tadi

*Corresponding author for this work

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In the last ten years, the South African Personality Inventory (SAPI) has been developed as an indigenous measurement of personality for the multi-cultural environment of South Africa. The aim of the SAPI is to assess personality in an unbiased and equivalent way. For the purpose of this study, we used an 82-item version of the SAPI which measures nine factors (Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, Extraversion, Facilitating, Integrity, Intellect, Openness, Relationship Harmony and Soft-heartedness).

Participants and procedure:

A cross-sectional survey was conducted using the SAPI, the General Health Questionnaire and the Brief Multidimensional Student Life Satisfaction Scale. A purposive sample was drawn from Black and White emerging adults (N = 990). We assessed the relationship between personality aspects and well-being across groups in a multiple group structural equation model (SEM) using the SPSS and AMOS programs.


Black emerging adults showed evidence of more individualistic- inclined personality features, while the White emerging adults seem to demonstrate more collectivistic features. In terms of health, the White emerging adults experience more life satisfaction than their Black counterparts. Conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion, facilitating and openness predict well-being among emerging adults.


This study contributes to expanding the nomological network of the SAPI, and it enhances knowledge pertaining to the link between personality and well-being of emerging adults in South Africa. Understanding which factors contribute to poor mental health and lack of life satisfaction may lead to innovation programmes for emerging adults to assist them in dealing with negative health outcomes possibly associated with living in multicultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
JournalCurrent Issues in Personality Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • personality
  • well-being
  • South African Personality Inventory
  • emerging adults
  • South Africa
  • BIAS

Cite this

Nel, J. A., Adams, B. G., van de Vijver, F. J. R., Laher, S., Louw, J., Makhale, L. M., Naude, L., & Tadi, F. (2017). Personality and well-being in Black and White South African emerging adults. Current Issues in Personality Psychology, 5(1), 11-20.