City vs Countryside: How Where You Live Affects Your Happiness (M)

City vs countryside? Open vs closed-minded people? How does personality and place interact to affect life satisfaction?

City vs countryside? Open vs closed-minded people? How does personality and place interact to affect life satisfaction?

Sorry, this article is for paying members only.

Please find out more about accessing all PsyBlog articles.

Members can sign in below:

Perfectionism Is Related To Higher Depression Risk — But It Can Be Reduced

How to reduce the damage done by this depressive personality trait.

How to reduce the damage done by this depressive personality trait.

The personality trait of perfectionism is linked to higher depression risk, a review of ten different studies finds.

People who are perfectionists are worried about making mistakes and they tend to be heavily critical of themselves.

They feel pressure from society to perform to a high standard and they think others are continually judging their performance.

When perfectionists fail to meet their lofty standards, they tend to get depressed.

Practicing self-acceptance or self-compassion is one of the best ways of dealing with perfectionist tendencies (see my ebook).

The conclusions come from research collecting together the results of 10 separate studies including 1,758 people.

The results showed that neuroticism, or ‘negative emotionality’ is the personality trait most strongly linked to depression.

However, being a perfectionist is associated with an additional risk.

The authors explain their results:

“In our meta-analysis of 10 longitudinal studies composed of undergraduate, community member, psychiatric patient, outpatient and medical student samples, neuroticism was the strongest predictor of change in depressive symptoms.

Even so, all seven perfectionism dimensions still predicted change in depressive symptoms beyond neuroticism.”

One aspect of perfectionism is feeling societal pressure.

The authors write:

“…socially prescribed perfectionism, concern over mistakes, doubts about actions, self-criticism, and perfectionistic attitudes add incrementally to understanding change in depressive symptoms beyond neuroticism.”

Perfectionism is problematic because high standards are so hard to reach consistently.

The authors write:

“…people high in perfectionistic concerns appear to think, feel and behave in ways that have depressogenic consequences [causing depression].

Such people believe others hold lofty expectations for them, and often feel incapable of living up to the perfection they perceive others demand.

They may agonize about perceived failures and have doubts about performance abilities because they experience their social world as judgmental, pressure-filled and unyielding.”

The study was published in the European Journal of Personality (Smith et al., 2016).

This Personality Trait Preserves Memory And Judgement

The best mindset to ward off cognitive decline can be cultivated using exercises such as visualising your best possible self.

The best mindset to ward off cognitive decline can be cultivated using exercises such as visualising your best possible self.

Older adults with a more optimistic outlook experience fewer memory and judgement problems, research finds.

Optimism has also been linked to desirable health behaviours like:

  • Eating more healthily.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Lower risk of heart conditions and stroke.

For the study, researchers followed around 500 older adults over four years to see if they experienced any cognitive impairments.

The results showed that the best mindset was optimism, which was linked to a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment.

Ms Katerina Gawronski, the study’s first author, said:

“We felt like this was an important topic to investigate and to our knowledge, it’s the first study to examine the link between optimism and cognitive impairment in older adults.

We found that optimism was indeed associated with better cognitive health over time.”

Best mindset can be learned

The good news is that optimism is not fixed in stone.

Exercises such as visualising your ‘best possible self‘ have been shown to increase optimism.

Here is how I’ve previously explained the exercise:

Visualising your best possible self may sound like an exercise in fantasy but, crucially, it does have to be realistic.

Carrying out this exercise typically involves imagining your life in the future, but a future where everything that could go well, has gone well.

You have reached those realistic goals that you have set for yourself.

Then, to help cement your visualisation, you commit your best possible self to paper.

This exercise draws on the proven benefits of expressive writing.

Dr Eric Kim, a study co-author, said:

“Therefore, optimism may be a novel and promising target for prevention and intervention strategies aimed at improving cognitive health.”

The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine (Gawronski et al., 2016).

These 2 Dark Triad Personality Traits Are Highly Attractive

The study showed 128 young women personality profiles of various men.

The study showed 128 young women personality profiles of various men.

Extraverts with stable, or non-neurotic personalities are particularly attractive, research finds.

However, both of these personality traits also help explain the attraction of the ‘bad boy’ to women, who also tends to be laid-back and extraverted.

Narcissist and psychopaths are seen as both extraverted and having stable, non-neurotic personalities, the study found.

Both of these contribute to the attractiveness of men with ‘dark triad’ personalities.

The ‘dark triad’ of personality factors includes narcissism and psychopathy, along with Machiavellianism.

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 [DT] 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 in which 128 young women were shown personality profiles of various men.

One was designed to be high in dark triad personality factors.

The results showed that women saw the ‘bad boy’ as more attractive, when appearance was held constant.

Here are the authors’ quick description of the dark triad personality traits:

“Narcissism is defined by a sense of entitlement, dominance and a grandiose self-view.


Machiavellians are interpersonally duplicitous, insincere and extraverted.


Psychopathy consists of callousness, a lack of empathy, and
antisocial, erratic behaviour.”

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

The Personality Trait Linked To Lower Depression Risk

Some people’s personalities naturally have greater resistance to mental health problems. 

Some people’s personalities naturally have greater resistance to mental health problems.

Extraverts are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or any other form of mental health problem, research finds.

Extraverts tend to enjoy other people’s company, are often full of energy and tend to be talkative.

Other people give extraverts energy and they have a tendency to feel bored when alone.

The conclusions come from a study of 441 people in Finland who were given tests of personality, depression and anxiety.

The study also found that people who are neurotic are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

The study’s authors write:

“…the personality dimension neuroticism is strongly associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms, and the personality dimension intraversion is moderately associated with depressive symptoms among participants in this urban general population.”

Neuroticism, the authors explain, is:

“…characterized by proneness to anxiety, emotional instability, and self-consciousness, whereas extraversion involves positive emotionality, energy, and dominance.”

People who are both neurotic and introverted are at higher risk of depression and anxiety.

However, those who have stable personalities and who are extraverted are less likely to experience depression and anxiety.

The study was published in the journal Depression and Anxiety (Jylhä et al., 2006).

2 Personality Traits That Are Vital For Success

The personality traits that help cadets graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point.

The personality traits that help cadets graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point.

Grit and intelligence are two personality factors vital for success, research suggests.

Grit is the trait of perseverance and passion that keeps people working towards long-term goals.

While higher intelligence helps people succeed at certain activities, it may be grit that really propels people over the line.

The conclusions come from a study of over 11,258 cadets entering the US Military Academy at West Point.

Professor Angela Duckworth, the study’s first author, said:

“I was looking for a context in which people might be quitting too early.

There’s such a thing as quitting at the right time.

But there’s also such a thing as quitting on a bad day when you’re discouraged and maybe shouldn’t be making such a big decision.”

All cadets entering the Academy in nine successive years completed measures of grit, plus the researchers had access to cognitive scores and tests of physical abilities.

Professor Duckworth said:

“We accumulated all this data in part so we could answer more definitively the question of whether grit predicted success outcomes.

We now have more confidence in our original conclusions.

At the same time, we wanted to explore where, perhaps, grit wasn’t the most important factor.”

The results showed that the trait of grit was most useful to cadets during ‘Beast Barracks’, a six-week initiation during which 3 percent of cadets drop out.

Professor Duckworth said:

“The grittier you are, the less likely you are to drop out during that very discouraging time.”

In classroom activities it was intelligence that mattered most.

To graduate from West Point, though, a combination of grit and physical ability was more important than cognitive abilities.

Professor Duckworth said:

“This work shows us that grit is not the only determinant of success.

Yes, it’s very important, helping people stick with things when they’re hard, but it’s not the best predictor of every aspect of success.”

Fascinatingly, the higher cadet’s cognitive abilities, the lower their grit.

Smarter people seem to have less determination to overcome the odds, perhaps because they face fewer challenges.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Duckworth et al., 2019).

2 Personality Traits Linked To Longer Life

There are two psychological traits that help people resists the connection between stress and biological aging.

There are two psychological traits that help people resists the connection between stress and biological aging.

Stress makes people age faster, a study confirms.

Even among relatively young and healthy people, those who had experienced more stress displayed biological markers of greater aging than their actual years.

Avoiding stress, therefore, can potentially help you live longer.

There are also two psychological traits that help people resists the connection between stress and biological aging.

Both resilience and self-control help people defy the aging effects of stress on their bodies.

Self-control refers to the ability to manage our actions and emotions — indeed, higher self-control is linked to looking younger.

Psychological resilience is the ability to overcome challenges and return to a stable frame of mind relatively quickly.

Both of these factors are potentially powerful as they allow people to avoid some of the ravages of stress on their body.

Prolonged stress has been shown to increase the risk of:

  • mood disorders like depression and anxiety,
  • heart disease,
  • addiction,
  • post-traumatic stress disorder,
  • and obesity.

Stress also stops people thinking clearly and regulating their emotions efficiently.

Dr Zachary Harvanek, the study’s first author, said:

“These results support the popular notion that stress makes us age faster, but they also suggest a promising way to possibly minimize these adverse consequences of stress through strengthening emotion regulation and self-control.”

The study included 444 people who had their biological age measured and compared to their actual, chronological age.

Biological age is revealed  by natural chemical changes that occur to DNA, which are known as ‘epigenetic clocks’.

The results showed that these epigenetic clocks had run slower in people who had experienced less prolonged stress.

However, psychological resilience and self-control made a longer and healthier life more likely, even in the face of stress.

Professor Rajita Sinha, study co-author, said:

“We all like to feel like we have some agency over our fate.

So it is a cool thing to reinforce in people’s minds that we should make an investment in our psychological health.”

The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry (Harvanek et al., 2021).

Eating This Food Is A Sign You Are Extraverted

What your diet says about your personality.

What your diet says about your personality.

Eating more meat is a sign of being extraverted, new research finds.

Vegetarians and vegans, meanwhile, are more likely to be introverted.

However, vegetarians also tend to be slimmer than their meat- eating peers.

This is probably because avoiding animal foods reduces the intake of fat and sugar.

Dr Veronica Witte, study co-author, is not sure exactly why vegetarians tend to be more introverted:

“It could be because more introverted people tend to have more restrictive eating habits or because they are more socially segregated because of their eating habits.”

The conclusions come from a study of 8,943 people in Germany who were given a test of personality, along with other measures.

The researchers had expected to find a link between diet and neuroticism, but did not.

Dr Witte said:

“Earlier analyses had found that more neurotic people were generally more likely to avoid certain groups of foods and to behave more restrictively.

We focused here solely on the avoidance of animal products and could not observe any correlation.”

People who are neurotic are more likely to experience depression and anxiety.

Indeed, some research finds that plant-based diets are linked to depression.

However, there was no evidence of this in the current study.

Dr Witte said:

“It is possible that in previous analyses other factors had blurred the results, including the BMI or conspicuous personality traits that are known to be associated with depression.

We accounted for them.”

The lower weight of vegetarians and vegans is less mysterious.

Ms Evelyn Medawar, the study’s first author, said:

“Products that are excessively rich in fat and sugar are particularly fattening.

They stimulate the appetite and delay the feeling of satiety.

If you avoid animal foods, you consume fewer such products on average.

People who eat predominantly vegetable foods may therefore absorb less energy.”

The study was published in the journal Nutrients (Medawar et al., 2020).

Liking This Drink Reveals A Risk-Taking Personality

What liking certain foods and drinks reveals about your personality.

What liking certain foods and drinks reveals about your personality.

Risk-takers and sensation-seekers prefer bitter drinks, such as bitter beer, research finds.

Pale ales, which are generally more bitter than lagers, are preferred by thrill-seekers.

Other bitter drinks, such as strong coffee along with spicy foods, are particularly attractive to sensation-seekers.

Sensation-seeking is an aspect of extraversion, suggesting those who like bitter drinks are more extraverted.

In contrast, people who avoid bitter tastes, tend to have more agreeable personalities, previous research has found.

Dr John Hayes, study co-author, said:

“Traditionally, most researchers find that people who experience bitterness more intensely avoid bitter food or drink—so with heightened bitterness, they like it less, and therefore consume it less.

But here, we find that people who seek higher sensations and are more risk-taking, they like bitter beer such as India pale ales, if they also have greater bitter taste perception.”

For the study, 109 people rated their liking of two pale ales and a lager.

The results revealed that those with sensation-seeking personalities preferred the more bitter beer.

Ms Molly Higgins, the study’s first author, said:

“Our data contradict the classic view that bitterness is merely an aversive sensation that limits intake.

We found that increased bitterness perception does not always lead to decreased liking and intake—rather, it’s a positive attribute in some products for some consumers.”

Disliking bitter foods can be bad for health, said Ms Higgins:

“Avoidance of bitter foods can impact health negatively, because bitter foods such as cruciferous vegetables, green tea and grapefruit contain healthy compounds like flavonols, which are reported to have antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.”

Narcissists and psychopaths?

On the other hand, having a preference for bitter tastes is linked to psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism, some studies have found.

A predilection for bitter foods and drinks, therefore, could indicated some psychopathic tendencies in a person’s personality.

The study was published in the Food Quality and Preference (Higgins et al., 2020).

There Are Four Personality Types, Scientists Find

The results from over 1.5 million people showed that many clustered around these four types.

The results from over 1.5 million people showed that many clustered around these four types.

There are four distinct personality types that many people fall into, according to research from 1.5 million people around the world.

They are the ‘average’, the ‘reserved’, the ‘role models’ and the ‘self-centred’.

While psychologists usually dislike the idea of personality ‘types’, Professor Luís Amaral, study co-author, said:

“Personality types only existed in self-help literature and did not have a place in scientific journals.

Now, we think this will change because of this study.”

1. Average

Most people are ‘average’, as you would expect: they are relatively extraverted but also a little neurotic.

They are also relatively closed to new experiences, preferring to stick to what they know and not that curious about the world.

2. Reserved

Reserved people tend to be emotionally stable but more introverted.

Set against this, they are also agreeable and conscientious.

This is the quiet, unobtrusive, willing and dependable type.

3. Role Models

Role models tend to have stable emotions and be high in openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness and extraversion.

This means they are friendly, hard-working, outgoing and curious.

Others naturally looked up to them because of their positive personality traits.

Professor Amaral said:

“These are people who are dependable and open to new ideas.

These are good people to be in charge of things.

In fact, life is easier if you have more dealings with role models.”

People are more likely to fit into the role model category as they get older.

Women are also more likely to fall into this category.

4. Self-centred

Self-centred people are extraverted but low in openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Teenage boys are particularly likely to be self-centred, Professor Amaral said:

“We know teen boys behave in self-centered ways.

If the data were correct and sifted for demographics, they would they turn out to be the biggest cluster of people.”

People tend to get less self-centred with age.

The results come from a survey of over 1.5 million people worldwide.

All were given standard tests of the five major factors of personality: neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion and openness to experience.

The results showed that many — although not all — people tend to cluster around these four types.

Change is also possible between the groups, Professor Amaral said:

“When we look at large groups of people, it’s clear there are trends, that some people may be changing some of these characteristics over time.

This could be a subject of future research.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour (Gerlach et al., 2018).