Washington, Dec 12: A new study has revealed how some aspects of our personality may affect our health and wellbeing, supporting long-observed associations between aspects of human character, physical health and longevity.
A team of health psychologists at The University of Nottingham and the University of California in Los Angeles carried out a study to examine the relationship between certain personality traits and the expression of genes that can affect our health by controlling the activity of our immune systems.
Although the study did not find any results to support a common theory that tendencies toward negative emotions such as depression or anxiety can lead to poor health (disease-prone personality), it was found that a person’s degree of extraversion and conscientiousness is related to differences in immune cell gene expression.
The study used highly sensitive microarray technology to examine relationships between the five major human personality traits and two groups of genes active in human white blood cells (leukocytes): one involving inflammation, and another involving antiviral responses and antibodies.
Leading the research, Professor Kavita Vedhara, from The University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine, said that their results indicated that ‘extraversion’ was significantly associated with an increased expression of pro-inflammatory genes and that ‘conscientiousness’ was linked to a reduced expression of pro-inflammatory genes.
She explained that individuals who they would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their socially orientated nature (i.e., extraverts) appear to have immune systems that they would expect can deal effectively with infection. While individuals who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well.
The research concludes that although the biological mechanisms of these associations need to be explored in future research, these new data may shed new light on the long-observed epidemiological associations between personality, physical health , and human longevity.