Summary: People with a neurotic personality type have a stronger relationship with stress exposure and perceived stress than any of the other four personality types.
Source: University of Illinois
A new paper co-authored by a team of Urbana-Champaign experts from the University of Illinois who study the science of personalities highlights the important role of personality traits in accounting for individual differences in the experience of stress.
In a meta-analysis synthesizing over 1,500 effect sizes from around 300 primary studies, the team showed that while all of the “Big Five” personality traits – agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness – are linked to stress, neuroticism showed the strongest link, said Bo Zhang, professor of labor and employment relations and psychology at Illinois and co- author of the article.
“Stress is a significant mental and physical health issue that affects many people and many important areas of life, and some people are more likely to experience or perceive stress disproportionately or more intensely than others, which can then play a role in mental and physical issues such as anxiety or depression,” he said.
“We found that highly neurotic individuals “—an increased tendency toward negative affect as well as an exaggerated response to threat, frustration, or loss—“demonstrated a relationship to both exposure to stress and perceived stress which was stronger than the other four personality traits.”
Zhang’s co-authors are Jing Luo, of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University; Mengyang Cao, former graduate student of Island University; and Brent W. Roberts, professor of psychology at U. of I.
“The study is the first meta-analysis that summarizes and integrates the various findings on the links between Big Five personality traits and stress,” said Luo, the research’s lead researcher.
“Our article suggests that certain personality traits are an important source for understanding individual differences in stress.”
The researchers found that when stress rated according to different conceptualizations was tested, all of the Big Five traits were related to perceived stress, but only neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were related to stress exposure.
“The other main personality factors have a relationship with stress, but it’s not as pronounced as in someone who is neurotic,” Zhang said.
“With agreeableness and conscientiousness, for example, it is possible that agreeable people are less likely to encounter stressful situations such as interpersonal conflict due to their tendency to be caring, understanding, and forgiving.
“Similarly, conscientious people are less likely to experience stress because their good self-regulation abilities can protect them from encounters with stressful experiences, as well as from the negative psychological impacts of stressors.”
But that’s not the same way neuroticism affects stress, Zhang said.
“Neuroticism and stress share common components, such that people high in neuroticism are likely to be instrumental in generating stressors and reacting to a wide variety of events in negative ways, leading to a likelihood or increased chronicity of negative experiences,” he said.
The study highlights the importance of personality in better understanding individual differences in stress, the researchers said.
“Stress is ubiquitous, and the results of the current study may have implications for studying individual differences in the experience of stress and identifying those at high risk of experiencing stress and related health problems. “, said Zhang.
“If we want to add some sort of intervention program to help people deal with stress, we may need to consider their specific personality profile, because there are individual differences in how people deal with stress. .”
About this stress and personality trait research news
Author: Phil Ciciora
Source: University of Illinois
Contact: Phil Ciciora – University of Illinois
Image: Image is in public domain
Original research: Access closed.
“The stressful personality: a meta-analytic review of the relationship between personality and stress” by Jing Luo et al. Personality and Social Psychology Review
The stressful personality: a meta-analytic examination of the relationship between personality and stress
The current study presented the first meta-analysis of associations between Big Five personality traits and stress measured under different conceptualizations (exposure to stress, psychological and physiological responses to stress) using a total of 1,575 data sizes. effect drawn from 298 samples.
Overall, neuroticism was found to be positively related to stress, while extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness were negatively related to stress. When stress rated according to different conceptualizations was tested, only neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were related to stressor exposure.
All of the Big Five personality traits were significantly associated with perceived psychological stress, while all five personality traits had weak to no associations with physiological stress response.
Other moderation analyzes have suggested that associations between personality traits and stress according to different conceptualizations also depend on different characteristics of stress, sample, study design, and measures.
The results confirm the important role of personality traits in individual differences in stress.
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