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Research Mentor and Department
Dr. Joshua Jackson
Personality traits have been linked to health behaviors and health status in a multitude of past studies, but few have examined the effects of personality trait interactions. The present study used an online questionnaire to assess how healthy neuroticism, the co-occurrence of high levels of conscientiousness and neuroticism, is related to health. Participants provided information about their health-related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and the responses of participants who had high levels of both traits were analyzed to identify what makes these individuals distinguishable. The results provided four main findings. First, healthy neuroticism, as defined by high levels of conscientiousness and neuroticism, is relatively rare. Second, though many constructs were associated with healthy neuroticism, they had stronger associations with the independent traits of conscientiousness and neuroticism. Third, the results indicate that for this particular sample, the individual traits were more indicative of health than was the interaction between them. Fourth, more specific levels of personality were not able to uniquely identify healthy neurotics. Overall, while healthy neuroticism is theoretically plausible, it is difficult to identify the health behaviors that distinguish these individuals from non-healthy neurotics. These findings lead to new questions about how personality trait interactions affect health.