Abstract The present study aimed to explore the influences of extraversion and neuroticism on happiness, PA and NA and to examine the mediating effect of resilience in this relationship. NEO-Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI), Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI) and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) were administered to 289 college students. Results from path analyses (AMOS) revealed that resilience partially mediated the association between extraversion and happiness and PA, and the association between neuroticism and happiness and NA. Furthermore, the association between extraversion and NA, and the association between neuroticism and PA, were fully mediated by resilience. This study makes a contribution to the potential mechanism of the association between extraversion, neuroticism and affective components of subjective well-being.