This is what a healthy personality is like - and how to test your own
A recently redefined definition also has deeper implications for theories about adaption and functioning, experts say
Psychologists have refined the definition of a healthy personality – and developed a test anyone can take to diagnose themselves.
US researchers say a healthy personality consists of low neuroticism and high levels of openness to feelings, warmth, positive emotions and agreeable straightforwardness.
“We believe our results have both practical implications for the assessment of and research on healthy personality functioning as well as deeper implications for theories about psychological adaption and functioning,” said lead author Wiebke Bleidorn, associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis.
Publishing her findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Bleidorn said: “In addition to providing a comprehensive description of a psychologically healthy individual in terms of basic traits, the profile generated and tested provides a practical assessment tool for research on health personality functioning.”
Scholars have been interested in characterising the healthy personality for as long as they have been trying to understand how individuals differ.
Bleidorn said the healthy personality profile was strikingly similar to ideas put forward by humanistic psychologists in the 1950s and 60s, especially Carl Rogers’s notion of the “fully functioning human”.
The UC Davis team set out to generate an expert-consensus model of the healthy person, surveying hundreds of professional personality psychologists and thousands of college students. They found a striking agreement among all of these groups in regards to what a healthy personality entails.
“People in general, no matter whether they are experts or not, seem to have quite a clear idea of what a healthy personality looks like,” said Bleidorn.
The researchers began with the “big five” personality traits of neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Psychologists believe these traits predict life outcomes such as health, self-esteem, academic performance, marital quality and work performance.
Then the psychologists used data from seven independent samples of more than 3,000 participants, computing a healthy personality index for each individual.
People with healthy profiles had higher self-esteem, self-concept clarity and optimism, and were more likely to describe themselves as being able to resist impulses, regulate their behaviour and focus their attention. They also described themselves as being low in aggression and antisocial behaviour.
Ten traits form the healthy personality profile: Openness to feelings;
Low angry hostility;
Low vulnerability to stress; and