Falling in love helps to stabilise the personalities of people who are neurotic, a study finds.
Love helps people who think pessimistically to approach life with more confidence and see events in a more positive light.
Neuroticism is explained by Dr Christine Finn, the study’s first author:
“Neurotic people are rather anxious, insecure, and easily annoyed.
They have a tendency towards depression, often show low self-esteem and tend to be generally dissatisfied with their lives.
However, we were able to show that they become more stable in a love relationship, and that their personality stabilizes.”
The researchers followed 245 couples aged between 18 and 30 over a period of 9 months.
They were asked how they would react to a series of fictitious scenarios and what they meant for their own relationships.
Being in a relationship helped neurotic people to see the world less negatively, the results showed.
Slowly but surely, as relationships blossomed, the neurotic people developed a more positive outlook.
The less neurotic partner also benefited from the changes, the researchers found.
Dr Finn said:
“The positive experiences and emotions gained by having a partner change the personality — not directly but indirectly — as at the same time the thought structures and the perception of presumably negative situations change.[…]
“It is difficult to reform a whole personality but our study confirms: Negative thinking can be unlearned!
Professor Franz J. Neyer, a study co-author, said:
“Of course everyone reacts differently and a long, happy relationship has a stronger effect than a short one.
But generally we can say: young adults entering a relationship can only win!”
→ Explore PsyBlog’s ebooks, all written by Dr Jeremy Dean:
The study was published in the Journal of Personality (Finn et al., 2014).