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Does PERSONALITY affect mental health?

moody personality

There are many free personality tests available online nowadays. These tests originated from psychological studies that have attempted to explain our personalities. (Bear in mind that horoscopes and astrology have no place in psychology!) For example, the Big Five Personality Traits personality theory has been developed since the 1970s and is currently widely accepted by personality researchers. It describes five common and stable traits that are influenced by both inborn and by our upbringing in individuals.

It is useful to understand our personality because it tells us about ourselves, and how it affects our daily lives and mental health. Referring to the Big Five Personality Traits, it scores us across five traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. It may sound like a lot to digest, but let us look into one aspect: Neuroticism.

Neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative emotions, for example anxiety, fear, sadness, and anger. People who are high in this trait are actually more likely to be sensitive to negative emotions. Conversely, people who are low in this trait are displayed to be more emotionally resilient and stable. 

Since our personality traits are stable and not likely to change, does it mean that we’re helpless if we are rated high in neuroticism? No! We can appreciate that neurotic individuals are necessary in society, and certain job occupations actually require people with high neuroticism. For example:

  1. Counselling / therapy / social work: Individuals high in neuroticism are able to empathise with others, and are well suited to helping professions.
  2. Creative industry: Deep emotions are also linked with expressiveness and imagination, suitable for writing, art and music fields.
  3. Journalism: The neurotic aspect of an individual may propel journalists with a sense of purpose and ensure that important issues are brought to light accurately.
  4. Other career options that require empathy, creativity, caution and self-awareness.

Neuroticism as a trait is something that may not change much throughout our lifetime. But instead of letting it drag our emotions down, we can utilise it effectively to express ourselves, help others and make life more meaningful in the process.

I’m Steven, MY Psychology KK’s intern,

With you, MY Psychology KK. 

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