Psychology researchers use a tool they called the “big five,” a set of personality traits including openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Together they can help map the way we think, feel, and behave — and that’s valuable information. After all, evidence suggests our personality plays a hand in our life spans, our college majors, and, according to new research, even our sex lives once we get married.  

Researchers from Florida State University have concluded a study examining the link between couples’ personalities and how often they have sex after tying the knot. While certain personality traits among wives were shown to be strong predictors of sexual frequency within a marriage, the same could not be said for husbands.

“No prior research has examined the association between partners’ big five traits and daily reports of sexual activity so we were hesitant to make specific predictions. It was somewhat surprising, however, that husbands’ big five did not predict couples’ sexual frequency,” corresponding author Dr. Andrea Meltzer told PsyPost.

Meltzer and her colleague, Dr. James McNulty, collected data from 278 newlywed heterosexual couples who had been married less than six months at the time of the study. In addition to taking a psychological examination that assessed the personalities of both husband and wife, each couple also kept a 14-day journal documenting their marital life, including how often they had sex.

The findings revealed that couples had sex an average of three to four times over the 14-day period. Although there was no link between husbands’ personality traits and how often the couple was intimate, higher levels of agreeableness among wives led to more frequent sex. Openness among wives also seemed to be a predictor of a more frequent sex life.

Someone’s sexual satisfaction seems to have no connection to the personality of that person’s spouse. On the other hand, both husbands and wives with low levels of neuroticism reported being more satisfied with their sex lives. And high levels of openness was also a stronger predictor of sexual dissatisfaction, but only among husbands.

The big five personality traits have been implicated in other aspects of both our physical and mental health. For example, people who score higher on neuroticism also tend to suffer from negative moods that lead to irritability, anxiety, and depression as opposed to people on the other end of the spectrum who have more emotional stability.

Being conscientious, on the other hand, could end up preventing a myriad of negative health complications by reducing the amount of stress that comes into our lives. Past research has shown that neuroticism leads to a release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can take its toll on our immune system. This has led to higher rates of heart disease among neurotic people.

Find out your own score on the big five Personality Test here.

Source: McNulty J, Meltzer A. Who is Having More and Better Sex? The Big Five as Predictors of Sex In Marriage. Journal of Research in Personality. 2016.