Are you someone who is highly organised, or laid-back? Do you get angry quickly, or do you opt for a gently-does-it approach when navigating a tricky situation?
“Personality is a good predictor of a number of things and research suggests it is fairly enduring over our life span - it doesn’t change a lot,” says Dr Bradley Elphinstone, a lecturer in Psychology at Swinburne University in Australia. Your personality type can impact the quality of your relationships, job prospects, your level of education, and the state of your physical and mental health.
After studying the traits of more than 1.5 million people, US researchers have come up with four personality types.
Personality types are defined using the “big five” personality traits, namely: Neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Those who score higher for neuroticism are reportedly more prone to being anxious. “Neuroticism can be associated with higher stress and more mental health concerns,” explains Dr Elphinstone.
Those who have a strong extraversion trait are outgoing while introverts are more likely to be reserved and to prefer their own company. Openness to experience refers to being willing to try new things while agreeableness is the personality trait of being cooperative. Conscientiousness signals diligence and hard work.
A Nifty Health Fix?
Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the UK found that some traits are more helpful when it comes to good health. They studied 121 people who completed a personality test that measured these five personality traits.
Those in the study provided a blood sample that was tested for two groups of genes - one was linked to inflammation and the other to antiviral activity. Being an extrovert was associated with more pro-inflammatory genes while conscientiousness was linked to less pro-inflammatory genes.
“In other words, individuals who we would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their sociallyoriented nature - extroverts - appear to have immune systems that we would expect can deal with [an] infection,” explains Professor Kavita Vedhara from the University of Nottingham School of Medicine.
A study by Northwestern University in the US has amassed more than 1.5 million individuals’ personality profiles and used them to describe four new key personality types. “You can have two people with identical personality types but [if] one person always worries about keeping up with the Joneses, their wellbeing will be lower than those with different aspirations,” Dr Elphinstone explains.
“Accept and embrace who you are and if you feel that any aspect of your personality is getting in the way of living well - seek a psychologist and get some advice.”
WHAT’S YOUR PERSONALITY TYPE?
The Role Model Personality
The role model personality scores highest on openness. They keep a cool, calm and collected attitude, making them ideal leaders and employers. “They stay calm under pressure and don’t get caught up worrying about things,” says Dr Elphinstone. “They like to be out there, talking to people and getting other perspectives, and they are open to considering new possibilities. They are less likely to get stuck in a certain way of doing things that is not effective, and are hard-working, and lead from the front.” More women than men fall into this personality type, says the US study.
The Reserved Personality
You score low when it comes to the extraversion trait – you tend to be more introverted, shy and don’t have a burning desire to be out and socialising. “They are happy spending time in their own company or with a small group of people,” says Dr Elphinstone. “They are agreeable and conscientious, so they are not anti-social. They are often less worried about meeting the expectations of others so [they] don’t feel that they have to be out there socialising.” Reserved personalities get on with others, and like the average personalities, they are hard-working. The Northwestern University research study found women are more likely than men to fit this personality type.
The Average Personality
You are less likely to be open and may have a tendency to worry. However, you are steady in most other traits and areas of life. “Being low on openness to experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing - these are people who are happy going back to the same restaurant because that’s where they are comfortable,” says Dr Elphinstone. “They are people who may worry about things a little, but they are reasonably outgoing, get on with people and work pretty hard - but they are not workaholics. They may lean towards the conservative side and are happy to go along with the status quo.”
The Self-Centred Personality
You don’t score highly when it comes to agreeableness and conscientiousness. “These individuals don’t get along so well with others. They are less hard-working or less concerned about doing the right thing by others,” says Dr Elphinstone. “They sit in the middle when it comes to neuroticism and aren’t particularly anxious. They score higher for extraversion and are happy to get out there and enjoy themselves, but they have less concern for others.” The Northwestern University research study found that there is a dramatic fall in the number of self-centred personalities as we age.