Did You Know....

Can personality traits contribute to illness?


In the past, a number of different personality traits have been suspected of contributing to particular illnesses. For example, hostility and aggression were often linked to heart disease. The difficulty was that while some studies would reveal a link, other studies demonstrated no such connection.

Recently, researchers at the University of California- Riverside have used a statistical technique known as meta-analysis to reevaluate previous research on the connection between personality and disease. What they discovered were some previously unnoticed connections between neurotic personality traits and five illnesses; headaches, asthma, arthritis, peptic ulcers and heart disease.

Another study from the University of Chicago suggested that shyness might be linked to a shorter lifespan.

Cavigelli, S.A. Biological mechanisms underlying personality as a predictor of life span. Poster session presented at the Gerontology Center Colloquium, University Park, PA. September 2005.

Friedman H.S., Booth-Kewley S. The "disease-prone personality": A meta-analytic view of the construct. American Psychologist. 1987; 42:539–555.

Hampson, S. & Friedman, H. S. (2008). Personality and health: A life span perspective. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. Pervin (Eds.). The Handbook of Personality (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford, pp. 770-794.