While some of us share certain characteristics with others, we all have our own unique personalities. For example, people who don’t talk as much may be seen as shy, while others who are loud and engaging are thought to be outgoing.
Our personality affects the way we feel, think, and interact with the world around us. But can it also affect our health? There has been a lot of research on this topic. With that in mind, here’s a look into some of the most common personality traits and how they impact a person’s health…
Type A Personality
People with type A personalities are known for being highly motivated and organized, says Help Guide, but also competitive and perfectionistic. These people tend to be more impatient, tense, assertive, and even aggressive, says VeryWell Mind. Since they derive a lot of self-worth from perceived achievements, they’re often workaholics. Type A’s have a strong desire to dominate both at work and in personal interactions.
When it comes to their health, an obvious culprit is stress. Some studies link type A personalities with hypertension, increased job stress, and social isolation. Another characteristic that puts them at risk is hostility which has strong links to heart disease. Hostile people are known to have higher levels of anger and aggression which makes them more likely to get certain types of migraines, says WebMD. Other potential conditions are bulimia and type 2 diabetes.
Type B Personality
These people are usually quite relaxed and much more flexible than someone with a type A personality. While they aren’t as ambitious or competitive as type A people, they do appreciate accomplishment and work towards their goals. The difference is they are more likely to focus on things they enjoy. Type B personalities aren’t driven by a need to achieve, win, or dominate, explains VeryWell Mind.
Their laid-back attitude already makes them less likely to suffer from stress and all the negative health outcomes of it. They lean towards creative careers such as being an artist, writer, actor, or therapist. One potential downfall is they may take a more lackadaisical approach to their health, warns the source. But their overall outlook is good. Their risk of health issues related to anxiety is low, they enjoy life, cope with stress well, and maintain a good quality of life.
Type C Personality
People with a type C personality (very conscientious people) usually live healthier and longer lives. This is because they are more likely to make good decisions and take a responsible approach to life, notes WebMD. They tend to eat well, exercise often, are less likely to smoke, use drugs, drink too much, or partake in unhealthy habits.
The source also notes that type C personalities are more likely to have their finances in good order and be in stable relationships. Both of these things can have a positive impact on our mental health and overall well-being. According to the Help Guide, people with high conscientiousness are also much better at coping with stress which can positively impact their mental health.
Type D Personality
The “D” in type D personality refers to the fact that this personality type is mainly characterized by distressed traits. They are more prone to negative emotions and a lack of self-expression, explains VeryWell Mind. They tend to experience more stress, depression, anxiety, anger, and loneliness. Not surprisingly, these can all have negative health consequences.
For example, one study found that the risk of heart problems, including heart failure, was three times more likely in people with type D personality. VeryWell Mind points out that approximately 20-percent of Americans have type D personality “with an estimated 50-percent of patients with heart problems exhibiting characteristics of this distressed personality type.”
Of course, we all know that our mental health can have a major impact on our physical health. Sometimes that’s even just our state of mind and outlook. For example, people with a more positive outlook are generally healthier. Even when optimists do get sick, their attitude can help them deal with it and increase their quality of life.
For example, a 2010 study found that optimists are more likely to accept their illness and find humor in difficult situations. “Through an adaptive management of personal goals and development and by using active coping tactics, optimists are significantly more successful than pessimists in adverse events and when important life goals are impaired,” writes the study.
People who are neurotic also tend to be very anxious and often experience negative feelings like fear and anger, notes Help Guide. They are easily overwhelmed in stressful situations and have intense emotional reactions to relatively minor life challenges, explains VeryWell Mind. “Researchers have found that this trait can be a predictor of a variety of physical and mental disorders, including overall life longevity,” writes the source.
Their overall negative attitude puts them at risk for mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and even psychotic experiences like delusions and hallucinations, warns Help Guide. They are also at a higher risk of experiencing a stroke and heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and asthma, warns VeryWell Mind.
Introverts tend to be more introspective, empathetic, and better listeners. However, they are at an increased risk of conditions like social anxiety and depression. Studies have found that extroverts tend to be healthier. This is likely because they communicate more effectively and have more social support and connections — both of which can have a huge impact on physical and mental health.
In fact, VeryWell Mind references a 2009 study that found that more social support leads to healthier behaviors, better coping skills, and observance of medical routines. While there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, people should be mindful of too much solitude. It can lead to loneliness and mental health problems, warns Help Guide.
A person who is extroverted is outgoing and social, but also enjoys many other benefits. Help Guide writes that extroverts are likely to have high self-esteem, adapt well to life’s changes, and enjoy an overall greater sense of well-being. This is likely because they have more social support and seek help from others.
According to WebMD, people who socialize more often tend to have stronger immune systems. Researchers can’t exactly explain why this is, but one study suggests it’s likely to do with the fact that they spend more time around others so they are less likely to catch a cold.
Agreeableness or “People-Pleasers”
People who are very agreeable, sometimes known as “people pleasers,” are very accommodating, passive, and conforming. When it comes to health, this personality trait offers both upsides and downsides. VeryWell Mind explains that because they are eager to please, they are more likely to follow doctor’s orders. However, they are less likely to seek help when something is wrong. This is because they don’t want to burden or inconvenience others.
According to the Help Guide, agreeable people tend to have a stronger sense of social well-being. This is because other people gravitate towards them. This creates a social support network that can help navigate life’s challenges and better cope with stress. In fact, a 2022 study found that agreeableness was a helpful trait for general life success. But another downside is they tend to avoid conflict. They might not stand up for themselves when necessary or hold back on voicing their opinion.
Narcissists are known for taking advantage of other people and putting themselves above others. They admire themselves in excess and believe the world revolves around them. According to WebMD, male narcissists are more likely to have certain health conditions, such as heart problems.
Researchers believe this is linked to cortisol. Narcissists have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their system even when they aren’t in stressful situations. Oddly enough this isn’t the case for narcissistic women.
Impulsive people make rash decisions that aren’t always well-thought-out. They are prone to taking risks without considering the potential impact on their health. This can lead to unhealthy activities like alcohol and drug abuse. “They’ll look at an opportunity that comes along and say, ‘Hmm, that sounds like fun,’ whereas another, more thoughtful person, will say, ‘I’m going to pass because I’m not sure it’s the best idea,'” says Robin Belamaric, a clinical psychologist in Bethesda, MD when talking to U.S News & World Report.
Another downfall of this personality trait is that they’re more likely to suffer from behavioral addictions like compulsive gambling. And according to WebMD, links have been drawn between impulsivity and ulcers in men. However, more research is necessary.
Openness to experience is one of the five personality traits within the Five Factor Model (or Big Five), explains Help Guide. This model focuses on individual traits rather than personality types. People with this personality trait are naturally curious, routine-oriented, and conventional, notes the source.
When it comes to their health, for the most part, the impact is positive. The only time this becomes negative is if their risk-taking becomes excessive. But overall, the Help Guide states that learning new things, meeting new people, and trying new hobbies help keep our brains active and maintain healthy cognitive functioning with age. It may also contribute to a high social well-being.