Some personality traits are considered healthier than others, according to new research by scientists at the University of California at Davis.
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For her two-part study, recently reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, lead author Wiebke Bleidorn and her colleagues asked 137 psychology specialists to find out what a "healthy personality" would look like by evaluating 30 aspects of five key personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, satisfaction and conscientiousness. Their ratings helped researchers create a professional consensus on the profile of a mentally healthy individual.
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Researchers then took advantage of this new healthy prototype, generated by experts, to analyze data from more than 3,000 study participants and get a healthy personality index.
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"Although current researchers used basic character models such as the Five Factor Model / Big Five domains to characterize personality disorders (such as Lynam & Widiger, 2001), no attention was paid to characterizing a healthy personality from a basic point of view," the authors wrote.
"We believe our results have both practical implications for the assessment and research of the functioning of the personality of health, and the deeper implications for theories of psychological adaptation and functioning," said lead author Bleidorn in his statement.
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What does a healthy person look like?
According to research, individuals with high index scores had many of the following:
- psychologically well adapted
- open to feelings
- ability to resist temptation
- high self-esteem
- good self-regulatory skills
- an optimistic view of the world
- a clear, steady look at yourself
- low aggression and anger
- they are likely to abuse others
- relatively immune to stress
- warm connection with others
Such healthy personality profiles also assessed low aspects such as depression, vulnerability, and angry hostility.
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While further research is needed to understand what leads to healthy personality development, the study points out that healthy features tend to increase with age.
"According to this research, the average young adult tends to increase features that reflect maturity and mental health, such as emotional stability or satisfaction." Long-term and behavioral genetic research suggests that both genes and life experiences contribute to individual differences in personality maturation, "the authors .
Having a healthy personality, scientists have said, could predict the individual's health, quality of relationships, work and academic achievements, and more.
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Researchers note that while FFM for personality traits is widely used, "each individual instrument can be questioned as to its accuracy for representing certain aspects of the personality."
Moreover, because the professional approach to what constitutes a healthy personality is a "descriptive approach", it does not have to "inform us why the different aspects have been considered optimal and human history has shown many times that it is quite possible to see the opinions typical of a large number experts that they are wrong. "
Researchers also recognize that using a Western convenience sample limits the usability of their results, and urges future studies to explore healthy personality profiles in different cultures using appropriately representative population samples.
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