The Personality Trait Linked To Good Mental Health

Personality, though, changes how people interpret and deal with the things that happen to them.

Personality, though, changes how people interpret and deal with the things that happen to them.

People who are extraverted are less likely to suffer mental health problems, personality research finds.

Extraverts are typically outgoing, talkative and energetic and they tend to have more positive emotions.

However, people who are aggressive and neurotic — a tendency to worry and be emotionally unstable — are at higher risk of mental health problems.

Neuroticism is characterised by negative thinking in a range of areas.

Neurotic people are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, as well as drink and drug problems.

Neuroticism, like other aspects of personality, is highly heritable — in other words, it is in a person’s genes.

However, neuroticism can be reduced by psychotherapy.

Neurotic people can learn to think differently, use their neuroticism creatively and perhaps reduce their neuroticism by falling in love.

The conclusions come from almost 600 participants in Switzerland.

They were regularly interviewed from the age of around 19 in 1979, until they were in their fifties in 2008.

The researchers asked them about their families, mental health, personality, any problems with drugs and major life events like relationship break-ups, job losses and so on.

People who are aggressive, neurotic and introverted are particularly at risk, the study’s authors write:

“…persons scoring high on aggressiveness and neuroticism and low on extraversion had an approximately 6 times increased risk for internalising disorder [like depression and anxiety] compared to persons scoring low on aggressiveness and neuroticism and high on extraversion.”

Of course, personality is only one factor that affects whether a person might experience a mental health problem.

Some people’s lives are much more difficult than others.

The researchers found that people who experienced job losses and relationship break-ups were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

Personality, though, changes how people interpret and deal with the things that happen to them.

The study’s authors conclude:

“Our findings stress the fundamental role of personality, mainly neuroticism, for the occurrence, persistence and severity of psychopathology.”

The study was published in the journal European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience (Hengartner et al., 2017).

Is Your Partner A Cheater? These 3 Personality Traits Might Explain It

Infidelity often has a highly corrosive effect on relationships.

Infidelity often has a highly corrosive effect on relationships.

Narcissism is one of the strongest predictors that someone will cheat in their relationship, research finds.

Narcissists are likely to be vain, egocentric and over-confident — they like to show off their bodies, talk about themselves and put other people down.

Two other personality factors that predict people’s infidelity are unstable emotions and psychopathy.

People who are unstable are unreliable, careless, badly organised and find it hard to resist temptation.

Psychopaths, meanwhile, are irresponsible, spontaneous and manipulative.

The authors write:

“One of the strongest predictors is Narcissism.

Women high on Narcissism predict that they will flirt with, kiss, and date other men, as well as have one night stands, brief affairs, and serious affairs with other men.”

The results come from a study of 107 married couples who reported on their relationships and any infidelity.

Naturally, people who were dissatisfied with their relationship were more likely to have affairs.

Similarly, couples who had many complaints about their partners were also more likely to have an affair.

Complaints that predicted adultery included alcohol abuse, eyeing up other people, jealousy, condescension and being too possessive.

After narcissism, the authors explain that…

“…two equally strong predictors of mild and serious infidelity are low Conscientiousness and high Psychoticism.

These variables are correlated, and share the common component of impulsivity and inability to delay gratification.

And like Narcissism, Conscientiousness and Psychoticism are stronger predictors of women’s anticipated infidelities than men’s anticipated infidelities.

These findings suggest that a personality style marked by impulsivity, low dependability, and low reliability in general carries over…”

Infidelity often has a highly corrosive effect on relationships, the authors write:

“Infidelity may be the most destructive source of conflict inflicted on a marriage.

Despite its destructive impact, infidelities are estimated conservatively to occur in about half of all marriages.”

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Buss & Shackleford, 1997).

2 Personality Traits That Indicate High IQ

The personality traits that suggest you have higher intelligence.

The personality traits that suggest you have higher intelligence.

The personality traits of being open to experience and having stable emotions both indicate a higher IQ, research finds.

People who are open to experience are more interested in things that are complex, new and unconventional.

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.

Both stable emotions and being open to experience are linked to better general knowledge, which are two aspect of intelligence.

Psychologists call general knowledge ‘crystallised intelligence’ is one of the two main types of intelligence.

Crystallised intelligence becomes more important as people get older as acquired information and skills predict their success in life.

The other type is called ‘fluid intelligence’, and refers to abstract reasoning and the speed at which the brain works.

The study included 201 university students in the UK who were given tests of personality and general knowledge questions, including:

  • Who wrote Anna Karenina?
  • Who discovered penicillin?
  • Which Beatle was shot in New York?

(See the end of the article for the answers.)

The results showed that people got more answers correct if their personalities were more emotionally stable and they were more open to experience.

Openness to experience is particularly important for general knowledge because it makes people more curious and motivates them to learn new things.

Another personality trait the researchers found was linked to greater general knowledge was introversion.

Signs of introversion include preferring to be in a quiet, relaxing environment and having a rich mental life.

Having a rich mental life likely encourages people with this personality trait to pick up more information about the world.

(The answers are: Leo Tolstoy, Alexander Fleming and John Lennon, respectively.)

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Chamorro-Premuzic et al., 2006).

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).

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