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!”
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 (Finn et al., 2014).