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Personality and Health

Photo credit: Damian O'Sullivan

 

A literature review by Ian Deary, Alexander Weiss, and David Batty in 2010 showed definite correlation between certain personality traits and poor health. Most interestingly, cardiovascular disease was significantly higher among individuals scoring high for neuroticism and low in conscientiousness1. Findings like these suggest that personality should be taken into account by health professionals when predicting future wellness, and that we are in need of research into whether or not these personality factors can be reduced or otherwise changed.

So if 'negative' traits can have adverse health effects, what about positive ones? A New Zealand study of over 1000 participants uncovered that young people who were conscientious had a 20% lower rate of cholesterol, high blood pressure and gum disease later in life2.

This field is not without significant issues insofar as using the scientific method. Many studies features self-reporting, which is wide open to self-serving bias. Even those that rely on other's assessments are questionable since anyone who knows you well enough to comment on your personality with authority is bound to have some biases of their own. Also, it is hard to classify personality traits due to their highly subjective nature.

Still, the findings are potentially impactful enough that the field warrants further scientific study, and many expert would agree.

 

References:

1. Peterson, C. (2011). Personality and Health. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/201102/personality-and-health. [Last Accessed 5/5/2014].

2. Rettner, R. (2014). Are You Orderly? Imaginative? How Personality Affects Health. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.livescience.com/44027-personality-future-health.html. [Last Accessed 5/5/2014].

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