The Personality Trait Linked To Poor Mental Health

Around one-in-five people is thought to have this personality type.

Around one-in-five people is thought to have this personality type.

People with a type D personality have three times the risk of developing psychological problems, research finds.

A type D personality refers to a person who is distressed and experiences more negative emotions, social inhibition and pessimism.

The personality type is linked to anxiety, depression and general poor mental health.

People with type D personalities tend to agree with statements like:

  • “I am a closed kind of person.”
  • “I often feel unhappy.”
  • “I am often down in the dumps.”

Type D people are fearful of rejection if they express their negative emotions.

Around one-in-five people is thought to have a type D personality.

Ms Viola Spek, the study’s first author, said:

“Type D patients tend to experience increased levels of anxiety, irritation and depressed mood across situations and time, while not sharing these emotions with others because of fear of disapproval.

We found that Type D personality predicts mortality and morbidity in these patients, independent of traditional medical risk factors.”

The conclusions come from a study of 6,121 patients with heart problems.

The results showed that those with type D personalities were at three times the risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and heart failure.

A further analysis of 49 separate studies found that type D personalities are at higher risk of psychological problems.

Dr Johan Denollet, study co-author, said:

“Type D personality and depression are distinct manifestations of psychological distress, with independent cardiovascular effects.

Our findings support the simultaneous use of depression and Type D measures to flag high-risk patients.”

Personality types

It was two cardiologists who originally came up with the idea of type A and type B personalities.

They found that type A personalities, who are competitive, hostile and aggressive, are at a higher risk of heart problems than people with a type B personality.

Type Bs are typically easy-going, relaxed and patient.

Studies have been equivocal on whether this dichotomy is useful.

This categorisation of personality types has now been superceded by the Five Factor Model, which classifies personality on five dimensions:

  • openness to experience,
  • conscientiousness,
  • agreeableness,
  • neuroticism,
  • and extraversion.

However, type D personalities may provide a useful categorisation beyond the Five Factor Model.

A previous study found that heart failure patients who also had a type D personality were six times more likely to be in a worse state of health.

The study was published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes (Denollet et al., 2010).

The Personality Trait Linked To Living Longer

Certain personality traits predict how long you will live.

Certain personality traits predict how long you will live.

People who are persistent and careful live the longest lives, research finds.

Surprisingly, to live a long life you don’t need to be particularly happy.

In fact, the people you might expect to live longest — cheerful, happy-go-lucky types — actually have the shortest lives.

The reason is that cheerful, laid-back people tend to be more careless about their health.

Persistent and conscientious people, though, get that check-up and are more committed to their work.

The conclusions come from a study that originally included 1,500 smart children.

They were followed from when they were 10-years-old in 1921.

Professor Howard S. Friedman, the study’s first author, said:

“Probably our most amazing finding was that personality characteristics and social relations from childhood can predict one’s risk of dying decades later.”

Namely, being conscientious predicted a long life, explained Professor Leslie R. Martin, study co-author:

“…participants who were the most cheerful and had the best sense of humor as kids lived shorter lives, on average, than those who were less cheerful and joking.

It was the most prudent and persistent individuals who stayed healthiest and lived the longest.”

The study also found that people who were the most committed to their jobs lived the longest.

Productive people lived longer than their more laid-back peers.

Professor Friedman said:

“…we found that as a general life-orientation, too much of a sense that ‘everything will be just fine’ can be dangerous because it can lead one to be careless about things that are important to health and long life.

Prudence and persistence, however, led to a lot of important benefits for many years.

It turns out that happiness is not a root cause of good health.

Instead, happiness and health go together because they have common roots.”

Some other pointers for a long life from the study included:

  • Help others: it can lengthen your life.
  • Avoid getting divorced if you are a man. Women, though, do just as well without their husbands.
  • Don’t start formal schooling too soon — early play is important.
  • Do work hard and stay committed to what you do.

It’s never too late to make a change, said Professor Martin:

“Thinking of making changes as taking ‘steps’ is a great strategy.

You can’t change major things about yourself overnight.

But making small changes, and repeating those steps, can eventually create that path to longer life.”

The research was published in The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight Decade Study (Friedman & Martin, 2011).

2 Personality Traits That Reduce Dementia Risk

People with these two personality traits lost less brain volume with age.

People with these two personality traits lost less brain volume with age.

People who are low in agreeableness are better protected against neuro-degeneration with age, research finds.

Similarly, people who are non-conformists and those who are more curious have less chance of developing dementia.

The study is not the first to show a link between personality and brain aging.

Previous research has also shown that being neurotic can double the risk of dementia.

For the current study, the researchers tracked 65 elderly people for over four years.

All were given tests including brain imaging and assessments of their thinking skills.

Professor Panteleimon Giannakopoulos, the study’s first author, said:

“In order to get as complete a picture as possible, we decided to look at the non-lesional determinants of brain damage, i.e. the environment, lifestyle and psychology.

So we conducted cognitive and personality assessments.”

The results showed that two personality traits were linked to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.

People with the two personality traits lost less brain volume with age, whether or not they developed dementia.

Being low in agreeableness is, essentially, the reverse of being ‘nice’, explained Professor Giannakopoulos:

“A high level of agreeableness characterizes highly adaptive personalities, who want above all to be in line with the wishes of others, to avoid conflict, and to seek cooperation.

This differs from extraversion.

You can be very extroverted and not very pleasant, as are narcissistic personalities, for example.

The important determinant is the relationship to the other: do we adapt to others at our own expenses?”

The second personality trait linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s was being open to experience.

People who are open to experience tend to be curious about the world and seek out knowledge.

Professor Giannakopoulos:

“This is less surprising, as we already knew that the desire to learn and interest in the world around us protects against cerebral ageing.”

Personality change tends to be hard, said Professor Giannakopoulos:

“If it seems difficult to profoundly change one’s personality, especially at an advanced age, taking this into account in a personalized medicine perspective is essential in order to weigh up all the protective and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease. It is an important part of a complex puzzle.”

The study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging (Giannakopoulos et al., 2020).

The 2 Most Attractive Personality Traits

People rate these personality traits as most attractive.

People rate these personality traits as most attractive.

Being extraverted and having stable emotions are two of the most attractive personality traits, research finds.

Extraverts are generally outgoing, self-confident and cheerful and can also be impulsive, sensation-seekers.

Emotional stability is linked to being better at dealing with stress and minor frustrations.

People who are emotionally stable usually find it easier to control their urges and are mostly unselfconscious.

However, both personality traits may also explain the attraction of the ‘bad boy’ and ‘bad girl’.

Psychopaths and narcissists tend to be rated as being more extraverted and stable.

Nevertheless, both psychopaths and narcissists, despite their attractive qualities, can make terrible partners.

Psychopaths are very manipulative and empathise little, while narcissists are self-involved and can be highly disagreeable.

The study’s authors write:

“Women, particularly in respect of short-term mating, may be attracted to ‘bad boys’, possessing confidence, hard-headedness and an inclination to risk-take – all accurate descriptors of Dark Triad men; all attractive to women.”

Another explanation for the attractiveness of bad boys could be their superficial charm, the authors write:

“Women may be responding to DT men’s ability to ‘sell themselves’; a useful tactic in a co-evolutionary ‘arms race’ in which men convince women to pursue the former’s preferred sexual strategy.

This ability may derive from a ‘used-car dealer’ ability to charm and manipulate, and DT-associated traits such as assertiveness.

Men with a DT personality are undoubtedly well-placed to successfully implement such a strategy.”

The conclusions come from a study 128 women who judged the personality profiles of various men.

One was high in the ‘dark triad’ of personality factors.

The dark triad includes narcissists, psychopaths and Machiavellians.

The results showed that the profile high in the dark triad traits was consistently seen as more attractive.

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Carter et al., 2014).

3 Personality Traits Associated With Infidelity

Up to 50% of people admit cheating on their partner.

Up to 50% of people admit cheating on their partner.

People who are low on conscientiousness are more likely to cheat on their partner, research finds.

People who are not conscientious are careless, badly organised and find it hard to resist temptation.

People who are more extraverted are also more likely to cheat on their partner, the researchers found.

It is probably because extraverted people have a wider social circle and so more opportunities to cheat.

Also, extraverts are impulsive, sensation-seekers who can easily succumb to their desires.

The conclusions come from a survey of 208 people, who were asked about their relationships and whether they had cheated.

Up to 50% of people admit cheating on their partner, the authors write:

“Early studies reported that by the age of 40, 50% of all married men and more than 25% of all married women have engaged in extramarital sexual behavior.

Three decades later, an estimated 50% of men continued to engage in sexual and/or emotional extramarital relations while 40% of women engaged in similar relationships.”

The results of the study revealed that cheaters tend to be low in conscientiousness, extraverted and open to experience.

Extraverts tend to seek out stimulation, the authors write:

“Extroverts may be inclined to cheat to obtain stimulation and prevent boredom.

Extroversion may also facilitate less investment in the relationship when those with this trait seek out others for stimulation, thereby decreasing commitment and resulting in cheating behaviours.”

The third personality trait associated with infidelity is openness to experience.

Openness to experience is linked to intellect and creativity.

The authors explain:

“…cheaters may perceive themselves as having stronger intellect and stronger creativity compared to that of their partners, leading them to seek out partners that may be a better, that is, similar, match.”

The study was published in the journal Current Psychology (Orzeck & Lung, 2005).

This Personality Type Has The Happiest Life

How time perspective is key to people’s happiness. 

How time perspective is key to people’s happiness.

People who are extraverts typically have the happiest lives, research finds.

One reason is that extraverts are likely to remember their past more positively.

Extraverts tend to be energetic and chatty, seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses.

It turns out that introverts are also happier if they can look back on more positive memories.

Neurotic people, though, have a tendency to focus on negative events in their past.

Naturally, this makes them feel less happy in general.

Those with neurotic tendencies can counter this by reframing negative memories and making an effort to focus on positive events.

Dr Ryan Howell, the study’s first author, explained:

“We found that highly extraverted people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets.

People high on the neurotic scale essentially have the exact opposite view of the past and are less happy as a result.”

The study asked people about their satisfaction with life, personality and time perspective.

Time perspective refers to whether a person orients themselves towards the past, present or future.

The results showed that people who were happiest tended to remember the positive aspects of the past and live in the moment.

Dr Howell said:

“We found that personality traits influence how people look at the past, present and future and it is these different perspectives on time which drive a person’s happiness.

This is good news because although it may be difficult to change your personality, you may be able to alter your view of time and boost your happiness, for example by savoring happy memories or reframing painful past experiences in a positive light.”

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Zhang & Howell, 2011).

This Personality Trait Raises Dementia Risk 48%

The scientists followed over one thousand twins in Sweden over 28 years.

The scientists followed over one thousand twins in Sweden over 28 years.

People who have experienced high levels of anxiety in their lives have a 48 percent higher risk of developing dementia.

Dr Andrew Petkus, who led the study, said:

“Anxiety, especially in older adults, has been relatively understudied compared to depression.

Depression seems more evident in adulthood, but it’s usually episodic.

Anxiety, though, tends to be a chronic lifelong problem, and that’s why people tend to write off anxiety as part of someone’s personality.”

The scientists followed over one thousand twins in Sweden over 28 years.

Each pair were tested every three years and screened for dementia symptoms.

Amongst identical twins, it was the more anxious of the pair that was at a higher risk of developing dementia.

This is the first study to find a link between anxiety and a higher risk of developing dementia.

Professor Margaret Gatz, a co-author of the study, described those in the high-anxiety group:

“They are people who you would say operate at a ‘high level of anxiety’.

They are frantic, frazzled people.

Those in the high anxiety group were about 1.5 times more likely to develop dementia.”

The link between anxiety and dementia could be a result of cortisol — the so-called ‘stress hormone’ — damaging the brain.

There may also be genetic factors that help explain the link.

The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Petkus et al., 2016).

3 Personality Traits Linked To High IQ

The results come from research on many thousands of people in 86 different countries.

The results come from research on many thousands of people in 86 different countries.

People rated by others as competent, dutiful and self-disciplined have a higher IQ, research finds.

So, higher IQ is linked to people seen as having a strong sense of responsibility, being self-disciplined and confident in their own abilities.

All three are facets of the major personality trait of conscientiousness.

The general link between being conscientious and intelligence makes sense, the authors write, since…

“…conscientiousness and cognitive ability are positive
correlates of several real life outcomes.

It was proved that both variables are especially important predictors of job performance, school achievements, and health-related behavior.

Interestingly, in most studies the effects of conscientiousness and intelligence on life outcomes appear to be independent.”

The results come from research on many thousands of people in 86 different countries.

All were given personality and IQ tests.

The study was interested in the difference between how people rated their own personality and how others reported their personality.

The results showed that people who were seen by others as more competent, dutiful and self-disciplined also had higher IQs.

However, people who were seen as ‘achievement strivers’ tended to be less intelligent, although this is also a facet of being conscientious.

The picture was different, though, when people rated their own personalities.

Then, lower conscientiousness was linked to higher IQ.

The difference could be explained by the fact that people with higher IQs sometimes have to make less effort for the same result:

“Particularly, it has been suggested that less able individuals may compensate for their lower intellectual capacity by developing a high level of conscientiousness.

People with high intelligence do not need to be very conscientious as they can rely solely on their intellect to accomplish most tasks.”

The study was published in the journal Learning and Individual Differences (Zajenkowski & Stolarski,, 2015).

8 Personality Studies Every Psychologist Should Know

People’s behaviour is explained by a mix of their personalities and the situations in which they find themselves.

People’s behaviour is explained by a mix of their personalities and the situations in which they find themselves.

Personality is the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that characterise a person.

People’s personalities can partly explain their behaviour.

However, the situations in which people find themselves also have a considerable influence.

Here are eight studies on personality that every psychologist should know.

Click the link in each section for a longer description of each of the eight studies on which this article is based.

1. Most people want to change their personality

Most people want to change their personality.

The most desirable changes for people are to be more extraverted, more conscientious and more emotionally stable.

It is easy to see why:

  • Extraverts are generally self-confident and cheerful and can also be impulsive, sensation-seekers.
  • Conscientious people tend to be more self-disciplined and they aim for achievement.
  • The emotionally stable are less likely to experience mental health problems.

2. Perfectionist personality

The personality trait of perfectionism is strongly linked to developing obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Young children who have excessive self-control and perfectionist tendencies have double the chance of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), psychologists have found.

It is important to catch OCD as early as possible in life so treatment can help to reduce compulsions and obsessions.

3. Neurotics are susceptible to stress

People who are higher in the personality trait of neuroticism are more susceptible to stress, a large review of the research finds.

Neuroticism is one of the five major aspects of personality — it runs on a continuum from very stable to very neurotic, with most people in the middle of the range.

People higher in neuroticism are at greater risk of depression as they have a stronger response to frustration, threat and loss.

4. Neuroticism doubles Alzheimer’s risk

Anxiety, jealousy and moodiness in middle age are associated with doubling the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The study followed 800 women for 38 years and looked at the effects of their neuroticism on the chance of developing dementia.

Neuroticism is a personality trait that includes moodiness, worrying and anxiety.

In general, people who are neurotic are more likely to be anxious, depressed, jealous or envious.

5. How to spot a toxic personality

People with toxic personalities have a mixture of arrogance and deceitfulness.

People with toxic personalities:

  1. are willing to flatter others to obtain favours,
  2. to take advantage of others by cheating,
  3. enjoy showing off their higher status to others,
  4. act in an entitled way,
  5. and want to have things others do not.

However, toxic personalities can survive and even prosper in the workplace, and elsewhere, if they have one critical ingredient: social skills.

6. Acting like an extravert

Acting like an extravert makes people feel happier — even natural introverts, research finds.

Both extraverts and introverts report greater well-being after a week spent being more talkative, assertive and spontaneous.

It is the first study to report the benefits of acting like an extravert over such an extended period.

The study also demonstrates that people who are naturally introverted can enjoy this exercise as much as extraverts.

7. Healthy personality traits

Being optimistic, feeling positive emotions and controlling negative emotions are all linked to better mental health, psychologists have found.

The good news is that all three traits can be trained and improved.

Practicing these positive traits can actually change vital brain structures.

Indeed, new research reveals that people with these resilient personality factors have greater brain volume in critical areas of their prefrontal cortex.

8. Agreeableness linked to empathy

People with the personality trait of agreeableness are more likely to be highly empathic.

Agreeable people tend to be friendly, warm and tactful — always taking into account other people’s feelings.

Agreeable people also tend to be trusting, modest, straightforward and compliant.

Psychologists have found that agreeable people are more likely to help others out — and this is partly down to empathy.



3 Personality Traits That Indicate High IQ

Many people do not predict that these traits are linked to being smart.

Many people do not predict that these traits are linked to being smart.

Highly intelligent people are more likely to be trusting, straightforward and altruistic, research finds.

However, many people find this surprising as they do not predict that being agreeable is linked to being smart.

It may be because people guess that being ‘too nice’ is not necessarily linked with being successful in life.

The traits that people do correctly guess are linked to intelligence are:

  • Openness to experience: being more open to experience is linked to higher IQ.
  • Extraversion: being outgoing is linked to a higher IQ.
  • Neuroticism: being neurotic is linked to lower IQ.

This shows that many of people’s beliefs about the links between personality and intelligence are correct.

People do, however, exaggerate the link — personality does not tell you as much about intelligence as people assume.

The study’s authors write that there is…

“…a general belief that intelligent people can be distinguished from less intelligent not only by their mental capacities but also by their personality dispositions.

For example, when people have been asked to name famous examples of an intelligent person, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Mother Theresa have regularly been suggested, indicating that spiritual strength is considered an indicator of intelligence.

When lay judges are asked what they mean by the term intelligence or mental abilities, besides cognitive aptitude, they usually propose competencies related to social and interpersonal skills.”

In other words, people assume that social and interpersonal skills indicate a high IQ, but this is not necessarily true.


The results come from a study of hundreds of people in Estonia who were surveyed about the perceived links between personality and intelligence.

The most fascinating finding was that people missed the fact that intelligent people tend to be more agreeable.

The study’s authors write:

“By attributing neutral agreeableness to high-IQ individuals, respondents may express the idea that it is not always advantageous to be kind to other people.

In fact, being unselfish and sincere may sometimes work against doing well in life.

Empirical data, too, suggests that being agreeable is not always adaptive or conducive to, for example, occupational career success.”

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Mõttus et al., 2008).