Learning to value taking action is an important way of reducing the harmful effects of neuroticism.
People high in anxiety and neuroticism dislike taking action, recent research reveals.
Neuroticism is a personality trait that is strongly linked to anxiety, sadness, irritability and self-consciousness.
When faced with major or minor decisions in life, neurotic people tend to avoid taking action.
Naturally, this can sometimes have negative consequences.
The study’s authors describe their results:
“People who are less emotionally stable have less positive attitudes towards action and more positive attitudes toward inaction.
Furthermore, anxiety was primarily responsible for neurotic individuals’ less positive attitudes toward action.
The link between neuroticism and less positive attitudes toward action was strongest among individuals who endorsed more collectivistic than individualistic beliefs.”
The results come from surveys of people in 19 different countries.
Almost 4,000 people were asked about their attitudes towards action and inaction, along with depression, anxiety and neuroticism.
The study’s authors argue that learning to value action is very important for neurotic people:
“People who are interested in reducing the harmful consequences of neuroticism in their own lives should think about how their attitudes toward action might be affecting their behavior.
By learning to value action, they may be able to change many of the negative behaviors associated with neuroticism and anxiety — such as freezing when they should act, or withdrawing from stress instead of dealing proactively with it.
These findings lay the groundwork for finding new methods of studying and ultimately preventing the negative consequence of neurotic action avoidance.
Specifically, increasing exposure to action may be sufficient to combat tendencies to avoid proactive behavior.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Personality (Ireland et al., 2014).