The Personality Trait Linked To The Strongest Immune System

Outgoing or introverted? Which personality types are best at fighting off infection?

Ways To Avoid Depression

Outgoing or introverted? Which personality types are best at fighting off infection?

Outgoing, sociable people also have the strongest immune systems, a study finds.

Extraverts typically seek out new experiences, prefer to take charge and are outgoing and talkative.

Extraverts tend to have better social skills, they feel more positive emotions and are more motivated.

Those who are the most conscientious and careful, though, are most likely to have a weaker immune system response.

Conscientious people are systematic and dutiful and are more likely to follow through on their plans than their less conscientious peers.

The research found no evidence, though, that a tendency towards negative emotions was associated with poor health.

The study, published in the snappily titled journal Psychoneuroendochrinology, gave personality tests to 121 health adults (Vedhara et al., 2014).

Along with assessing the five major personality factors —¬†extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness — participants had blood samples taken to measure genetic factors known to be important in immune function.

Professor Kavita Vedhara, who led the study, explained the results:

“Our results indicated that ‘extraversion’ was significantly associated with an increased expression of pro-inflammatory genes and that ‘conscientiousness’ was linked to a reduced expression of pro-inflammatory genes.

In other words, individuals who we would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their socially orientated nature (i.e., extraverts) appear to have immune systems that we would expect can deal effectively with infection.

While individuals who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well.

We can’t, however, say which came first.

Is this our biology determining our psychology or our psychology determining our biology?”

.

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

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.

Get free email updates

Join the free PsyBlog mailing list. No spam, ever.