Some of us are better at keeping the all-important yearly physical than others. Physicals, eye exams, and six-month dental visits are recommended if we want to live a relatively healthy life, as 44 million Americans get an annual physical every year. In addition to annual medical visits, one other unlikely candidate may play a role in how healthy we are: our personalities.

Previous research has observed how personality traits are associated with the onset of new diseases over time. For example, researchers classified personality based on the Big Five personality traits, including extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. Individuals who scored high on conscientiousness and openness were more likely to have adopt healthy behaviors, whereas neurotic people were more susceptible to poorer health.

Inevitably, personality differences influence our behaviors in numerous ways that affect our health.

So, what does your personality say about your health?


People who are outgoing and enjoy being in the company of others tend to reap the best health benefits. A study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinolgy found the extroverts appeared to have immune systems that seemed to better respond to infection. Ironically, extroverts are socially oriented by nature, therefore, it would be logical they would be exposed to more infections, however, they're equipped to deal with infections effectively.


If you prefer to be in your own thoughts, go under the radar, and have a small, but tight-knit social circle, you're probably an introvert. The reserved could be more vulnerable to infections than their louder counterparts, according to the previous study. Introverts who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well to infection, or have fewer white blood cells.


A conscientious attitude could potentially save your life. People who are determined and adamant about what they're doing are more likely to have better health because they're going to go out and do the things their doctors say they should be doing to stay healthy. A study published in the journal Psychology and Health found conscientiousness plays a significant role in determining longevity. It also appears to affect a person's level of educational attainment and occupational success.

Personality traits may influence health behaviors. Photo courtesy of Pexels/Public Domain


Those who are moody, nervous, and worrisome tend to be neurotic, which can wreak havoc on their health — or so we think. Interestingly, a 2012 study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found self-described neurotics have the lowest levels of Interleukin 6 (IL-6), a biomarker for inflammation and chronic disease. Moreover, researchers found those who exhibit higher levels of conscientiousness as well as neuroticism tend to weigh the consequences of their actions, and stop themselves from engaging in risky behaviors. And, the higher a person scored in both conscientiousness and neuroticism, the lower their levels of IL-6. This group also had lower body-mass index scores and fewer diagnosed chronic health conditions, results showed.


Acting without thinking could mean the difference between life and life peptic ulcer disease. A study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found employees who tended towards impulsivity were more than two times as likely to be diagnosed with ulcers within two years, even when factors like age, gender, and smoking were accounted for. The researchers suspect those with impulsive personalities may have higher amounts of stomach acid — possibly leading to ulcer formation.


People who see the glass half full rather than half empty tend to have a clean bill of health. A study published in the journal Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health found heart-related deaths were 50 percent lower among optimists and pessimists in a cohort of over 500 males followed for 15 years. Optimistis have a higher quality of life, therefore, they may be more resilient in the way they handle stress.