Washington: Extroverts and goal-oriented people may be less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, a study has found.
Though high levels of neuroticism put people at risk for depression and anxiety, if those same individuals are also highly extraverted and conscientious they could have a measure of protection against those disorders.
Neuroticism is the tendency to experience different negative emotions and to react strongly to stress.
Along with extraversion and conscientiousness, it is among the “Big Five” personality traits, a group that also includes agreeableness and openness to experience.
“If someone has high levels of extraversion they might be very good at gathering social support or increasing their positive affectivity through social means,” said Kristin Naragon-Gainey, from the University at Buffalo in the US.
“Similarly, conscientiousness has a lot to do with striving toward goals and putting plans in action, which can combat the withdrawal and avoidance that can go along with neuroticism,” Naragon-Gainey said.
The findings, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, point to the importance of stepping away from focusing on single personality traits in clinical settings in favour of looking at how combinations of traits might work together to help either prevent or predict specific symptoms.
The researchers interviewed 463 adult participants who reported receiving psychiatric treatment within the past two years.
Each participant also completed numerous questionnaires. The study examined the traits of neuroticism, extraversion and conscientiousness because those three have the strongest associations with mood and anxiety disorders.
Naragon-Gainey said all things being equal, there are risks for disorders associated with certain traits, but a better image of what is at stake emerges when there is an understanding of how a group of behavioural tendencies might work together.