People who are neurotic and introverted tend to experience more social anxiety, new research concludes.
Social anxiety involves worrying about being embarrassed or humiliated in front of others.
It is more than being shy — the fear can be so great that the social situation can only be born with considerable distress.
It sometimes makes people cancel social plans out of fear.
Neuroticism is a personality trait that is strongly linked to anxiety, sadness, irritability and self-consciousness.
Neurotic people experience more social anxiety because social situations can be stressful anyway and the neurotic mind tends to focus on the negative.
Introverts also suffer in some social situations as they can get overwhelmed by too much stimulation.
The conclusions come from a study of 135 people who were asked about their personalities and any symptoms of social anxiety disorder.
Mr Patryk Łakuta, the study’s author, explained the results:
“Extraversion and Neuroticism were found to act as key determinants of social anxiety symptoms measured at one-month follow-up.”
Some combinations of other personality traits are also linked to social anxiety.
People who are introverts and very open to new experience tend to have the highest levels of social anxiety.
Conversely other personality combinations provided protection against social anxiety, explained Mr Łakuta:
“High Extraversion at high Openness was strongly predictive of lower levels of social anxiety symptoms, and interaction of these traits seems to provide incrementally greater protection against SA (social anxiety).
The interaction illustrates personality synergies in protection against social anxiety so that high Openness seems to amplify beneficial effects of positive emotionality of high Extraversion.
Conversely, individuals low in Extraversion appeared at higher risk of social anxiety symptoms.
However, the most severe symptoms were associated with low Extraversion combined with high Openness.”
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, 2013) 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 Psychology (Łakuta et al., 2019).