The germ-phobic among us must be wondering how they get away with it. A recent study suggests that Extraverts (E), despite all their contact with other humans, have a stronger immune system than the stay-at-home Introverts (I).
Researchers at the University of Nottingham designed this study to discover more about the relationship between personality traits and health. They tested people for certain genetic “expressions” associated with a stronger immune system. After filtering out all the bad habits like poor diet, drinking, smoking, emotional distress and other damaging factors, they found Extraverts to have “an increased expression in pro-inflammatory genes”. This points to an ability to fight off disease.
While the Extraverts walk away with the prize, which traits show a decreased “expression of pro-inflammatory genes”? The more conscientious types (or Judging (J) ones in our model) had this distinction. The study suggests the careful types who follow all the rules and take care of business have less of an ability to fight off infections.
The authors of the study are quick to say that they cannot conclude whether it is the psychology of the person affects the physiology or the other way around. Doesn’t it always comes down to the “the chicken or the egg” question?
It’s clear that, despite the title of this article, the Introvert should not use this study to force themselves into social situations they don’t want to be in. There’s no sign that doing so will make them any healthier. There’s also no reason the more organized among us should start shirking their duties to avoid that winter cold. As any good researcher will tell you, showing a connection between two or more facts doesn’t necessarily describe the cause of anything.
Nonetheless, it is always interesting to see yet another connection between our physical selves and our personalities. The study allows us to enjoy some interesting guesses as to why it shows what it does. It also provides good conversation material for the cocktail parties frequented by those healthy Introverts.