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By Karen Nikos-Rose on December 20, 2018

What are the most psychologically healthy personality traits? Scholars have been interested in characterizing the healthy personality as long as they have been trying to understand how people differ from one another. Researchers from the University of California, Davis have identified a healthy personality prototype in a recent study using a contemporary trait perspective.

They found that the healthy personality can be described, with a high level of agreement, in terms of the 30 facets of the “big five” model of personality traits. This model organizes personality into five major factors: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Scientists have also identified facets for each of these factors that describe more specific kinds of behaviors. In this study, experts and laypeople agreed that a healthy personality consists of low neuroticism along with high levels of openness to feelings, warmth, positive emotions and agreeable straightforwardness.

Their findings were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Bleidorn, associate professor of psychology at UC Davis, the lead author of the study, 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.”

The purpose of the research was to address the healthy personality question by generating an expert-consensus model of the healthy person, surveying hundreds of professional personality psychologists along with hundreds of college students from Texas and Michigan. 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,” Bleidorn said.

Big five traits associated with life outcomes

There is also a large body of research showing that the big five traits identified as neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness are stable, heritable, and predict life outcomes such as health, self-esteem, academic performance, marital quality, and work performance.

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