The modern world has two new ways of finding abundance of employment and relationships:

  • Job boards, career sites and recruiters for finding jobs
  • Online dating sites for finding dates

While seemingly different, they share a couple similarities ~ 20% top performers and 20% top attractive people have really easy time finding the next job or romantic partner.

For example, a talented engineer working at Apple may have 50 recruiters knocking on his door, trying to "poach" him to the next hottest job or startup. An attractive woman on Tinder would match with just about any guy she wants and be swamped with messages from guys. Both of these people can find a great (but not perfect) job or a partner easily

From what I've been reading and observing, the ease with which the needs for job/partner can be fulfilled by top percentile of people makes these people devalue the experience. The good things are overlooked once negatives start to show up. This can make a person experience rapid build up of dissatisfaction with the current situation and want to "trade up".

This makes me ask: Are the experiences of dissatisfaction with job and relationships, as experienced by people who "have it easy" related? Do they use the same mental mechanism?

In a sense, this question is a continuation of this one: How long can a person stay happy, excited and motivated about something new? I'm asking if there's a universal mechanism by which a person starts to seek "something better"

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I believe this is regulated by dopamine. The same reward (salary or pleasure of the job) will give you less satisfaction over time. The reward should increase more and more to be able to experience the satisfaction you experienced the first time. This is also the case with some drugs. When the first trip gives you an amazing experience, you need to increase the dose to equal the same satisfaction another time). In short: look for dopamine and serotonin. You will find your answer and references there. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2016 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ Preliminary research suggests that the dissatisfaction is due to the individual perceiving that they are getting poor value out of job/relationship. This could be due to mis-calibration of the self worth mechanism and inflated sense of self worth, inconsistent with reality. $\endgroup$
    – Alex Stone
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


In general, personality traits correlate with most measures of satisfaction. Most notably, there is a large literature showing that personality correlates with life satisfaction (see Steel et al). In general, neuroticism is the biggest correlate followed by extraversion and conscientiousness.

The following table from Grant et al summarises two major meta-analyses on the correlation between big 5 personality and various measures of well-being including life satisfaction:

big 5 personality and well-being meta analytic correlations

From a theoretical perspective, personality represents an interpretative lens through which people experience the world. Some people are generally more positive or more negative. Some people focus on problems, others focus on what they have. Of course, eve

Personality and Job Satisfaction

I've seen similar correlations looking at personality and job satisfaction (see Judge et al), although in general these correlations are smaller than for life satisfaction. This may reflect the greater role of context. Here is the table of meta-analytic correlations from Judge et al between big 5 personality and job satisfaction.

meta analytic correlation between big 5 and job satisfaction

Personality and Relationship Satisfaction

Here is the meta-analytic estimate of the correlation between personality and intimate partner relationship satisfaction from Malouff et al (2008).

meta analytic correlation between big 5 and relationship satisfaction

General Comments

In general, the two tables above look somewhat similar to each other. Neuroticism correlations are the largest in both (r = -.22, r = -24). However, extraversion and conscientiousness may be slightly more relevant to job satisfaction.


  • Grant, S., Langan-Fox, J., & Anglim, J. (2009). The big five traits as predictors of subjective and psychological well-being 1.Psychological reports, 105(1), 205-231.
  • Judge, T. A., Heller, D., & Mount, M. K. (2002). Five-factor model of personality and job satisfaction: a meta-analysis. Journal of applied psychology, 87(3), 530.
  • Steel, P., Schmidt, J., & Shultz, J. (2008). Refining the relationship between personality and subjective well-being. Psychological bulletin, 134(1), 138.
  • Malouff, J. M., Thorsteinsson, E. B., Schutte, N. S., Bhullar, N., & Rooke, S. E. (2010). The five-factor model of personality and relationship satisfaction of intimate partners: A meta-analysis. Journal of Research in Personality, 44(1), 124-127.

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