How Does A Person’s Personality Affect Their Health?

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Scientists came to the conclusion that doctors, before treating a patient, need to know the character of a person as much as possible.

A new study from Duke University suggests that doctors should assess the personalities of their patients before starting treatment. For example, people at age 26 who were more conscientious—a personality trait that indicates a tendency to be self-disciplined and organized—were in better shape 12 years later than their peers who were less disciplined. Thus, among the second group, 45 percent had health problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and gum disease, while only 18 percent of the first group suffered from only one of these problems.

“Being conscientious is very good for health. Such people have more self-control, are not prone to smoking, they abuse drugs or alcohol. Conscientious people are also more likely to be active and eat healthy than irresponsible people, the researchers say.

Another character trait, curiosity, was also associated with better health. People who were distinguished by this quality preferred variety to routine and were more creative. “Such individuals are more open to experience and tend to have a higher IQ, which has a positive effect on overall health. They develop their intelligence and gain knowledge about how to prevent disease, know when to see a doctor, and if they are sick, they tend to stick to the prescribed treatment,” the researchers explain.

In total, more than 1,000 people living in New Zealand took part in this study. The participants’ personalities were assessed twice: first by a person who knew the participant very well, such as a best friend, family member, or romantic partner, and then by a healthcare professional using tests. These two assessments generally matched. The researchers also took into account factors that can affect a person’s health, such as socioeconomic status, weight, and bad habits.

Previous studies have already linked certain personality traits to health outcomes later in life, but many of these studies relied on biased diaries and reports from the participants themselves. The new work more objectively assessed a person’s personality, the researchers say.

 

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