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Concept: Neuroticism


We show that easily accessible digital records of behavior, Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender. The analysis presented is based on a dataset of over 58,000 volunteers who provided their Facebook Likes, detailed demographic profiles, and the results of several psychometric tests. The proposed model uses dimensionality reduction for preprocessing the Likes data, which are then entered into logistic/linear regression to predict individual psychodemographic profiles from Likes. The model correctly discriminates between homosexual and heterosexual men in 88% of cases, African Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95% of cases, and between Democrat and Republican in 85% of cases. For the personality trait “Openness,” prediction accuracy is close to the test-retest accuracy of a standard personality test. We give examples of associations between attributes and Likes and discuss implications for online personalization and privacy.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, White American, Sexual orientation, African American, Neuroticism, Trait theory, Heterosexuality


Polymorphisms in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) and exposure to early childhood adversities (CA) are independently associated with individual differences in cognitive and emotional processing. Whether these two factors interact to influence cognitive and emotional processing is not known.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Promoter, RNA polymerase, Childhood, Neuroticism, Serotonin transporter, 5-HTTLPR


Associations between personality traits, mental wellbeing and good health behaviours were examined to understand further the social and psychological context of the health divide.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Sociology, Clinical psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Behavioural sciences


Social competition is a fundamental mechanism of evolution and plays a central role in structuring individual interactions and communities. Little is known about the factors that affect individuals' competitive success, particularly in humans. Key factors might include stress, a major evolutionary pressure that can affect the establishment of social hierarchies in animals, and individuals' trait anxiety, which largely determines susceptibility to stress and constitutes an important determinant of differences in competitive outcomes. Using an economic-choice experiment to assess competitive self-confidence in 229 human subjects we found that, whereas competitive self-confidence is unaffected by an individual’s anxiety level in control conditions, exposure to the Trier social stress test for groups drives the behavior of individuals apart: low-anxiety individuals become overconfident, and high-anxiety individuals become underconfident. Cortisol responses to stress were found to relate to self-confidence, with the direction of the effects depending on trait anxiety. Our findings identify stress as a major regulator of individuals' competitiveness, affecting self-confidence in opposite directions in high and low anxious individuals. Therefore, our findings imply that stress may provide a new channel for generating social and economic inequality and, thus, not only be a consequence, but also a cause of inequality through its impact on competitive self-confidence and decision making in financially-relevant situations.

Concepts: Anxiety, Psychology, Neuroticism


This study explores listeners' experience of music-evoked sadness. Sadness is typically assumed to be undesirable and is therefore usually avoided in everyday life. Yet the question remains: Why do people seek and appreciate sadness in music? We present findings from an online survey with both Western and Eastern participants (N = 772). The survey investigates the rewarding aspects of music-evoked sadness, as well as the relative contribution of listener characteristics and situational factors to the appreciation of sad music. The survey also examines the different principles through which sadness is evoked by music, and their interaction with personality traits. Results show 4 different rewards of music-evoked sadness: reward of imagination, emotion regulation, empathy, and no “real-life” implications. Moreover, appreciation of sad music follows a mood-congruent fashion and is greater among individuals with high empathy and low emotional stability. Surprisingly, nostalgia rather than sadness is the most frequent emotion evoked by sad music. Correspondingly, memory was rated as the most important principle through which sadness is evoked. Finally, the trait empathy contributes to the evocation of sadness via contagion, appraisal, and by engaging social functions. The present findings indicate that emotional responses to sad music are multifaceted, are modulated by empathy, and are linked with a multidimensional experience of pleasure. These results were corroborated by a follow-up survey on happy music, which indicated differences between the emotional experiences resulting from listening to sad versus happy music. This is the first comprehensive survey of music-evoked sadness, revealing that listening to sad music can lead to beneficial emotional effects such as regulation of negative emotion and mood as well as consolation. Such beneficial emotional effects constitute the prime motivations for engaging with sad music in everyday life.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Empathy, Emotion, Personal life, Neuroticism, Mood, Trait


In two studies, we investigated how bitter taste preferences might be associated with antisocial personality traits. Two US American community samples (total N = 953; mean age = 35.65 years; 48% females) self-reported their taste preferences using two complementary preference measures and answered a number of personality questionnaires assessing Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, everyday sadism, trait aggression, and the Big Five factors of personality. The results of both studies confirmed the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the most robust relation to everyday sadism and psychopathy. Regression analyses confirmed that this association holds when controlling for sweet, sour, and salty taste preferences and that bitter taste preferences are the overall strongest predictor compared to the other taste preferences. The data thereby provide novel insights into the relationship between personality and the ubiquitous behaviors of eating and drinking by consistently demonstrating a robust relation between increased enjoyment of bitter foods and heightened sadistic proclivities.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Taste, Preference, Neuroticism, Antisocial personality disorder, Big Five personality traits, Narcissistic personality disorder


Dominance hierarchies are integral aspects of social groups, yet whether personality traits may predispose individuals to a particular rank remains unclear. Here we show that trait anxiety directly influences social dominance in male outbred rats and identify an important mediating role for mitochondrial function in the nucleus accumbens. High-anxious animals that are prone to become subordinate during a social encounter with a low-anxious rat exhibit reduced mitochondrial complex I and II proteins and respiratory capacity as well as decreased ATP and increased ROS production in the nucleus accumbens. A causal link for these findings is indicated by pharmacological approaches. In a dyadic contest between anxiety-matched animals, microinfusion of specific mitochondrial complex I or II inhibitors into the nucleus accumbens reduced social rank, mimicking the low probability to become dominant observed in high-anxious animals. Conversely, intraaccumbal infusion of nicotinamide, an amide form of vitamin B3 known to enhance brain energy metabolism, prevented the development of a subordinate status in high-anxious individuals. We conclude that mitochondrial function in the nucleus accumbens is crucial for social hierarchy establishment and is critically involved in the low social competitiveness associated with high anxiety. Our findings highlight a key role for brain energy metabolism in social behavior and point to mitochondrial function in the nucleus accumbens as a potential marker and avenue of treatment for anxiety-related social disorders.

Concepts: Psychology, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Cellular respiration, Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, Hierarchy, Sociology, Neuroticism


INTRODUCTION: Susceptibility to pain varies among individuals and may predispose to a higher risk for pain disorders. Thus, it is of interest to investigate subjects who exhibit higher resistance to pain. We therefore tested pain tolerance and assessed personality traits of ultra-marathon athletes who are able to run 4487 km (2789 mi) over 64 days without resting days and compare the results to controls. METHODS: After approval of the local ethics committee and with informed consent, 11 participants of the TransEurope FootRace (TEFR09 participants) and 11 matched (age, sex, and ethnicity) controls without marathon experience in the last 5 years were enrolled. They were tested for cold pain tolerance (cold pressor [CP] test), and the 240 item trait and character inventory (TCI) as well as the general self-efficacy (GSE) test were obtained. RESULTS: TransEurope FootRace participants had a highly significant greater cold pain tolerance in the CP test than controls (P = 0.0002). While the GSE test showed no differences, the TCI test provided TEFR09 participants to be less cooperative and reward dependent but more spiritually transcendent than the controls. Significant positive correlations were found between the CP test pain score at 180 seconds and several TCI subscales showing that higher pain scores correlate with higher reward dependence, dependence, cooperativeness, empathy, and pure-hearted conscience. CONCLUSIONS: Personality profiles as well as pain tolerance of our sample of TEFR09 participants differ from normal controls and-as obtained in previous studies-probably also from chronic pain patients. Low pain perception may predispose a person to become a long-distance runner. It remains unclear, however, whether low pain perception is cause or consequence of continuous extreme training.

Concepts: Psychology, Informed consent, Personality psychology, Pain, Neuroticism, Chronic pain, Trait theory, Marathon


ObjectiveResearch has revealed an association between personality traits and health outcomes, and in multiple sclerosis (MS), there are preliminary data showing a correlation between personality traits and brain volume. We examined the general hypothesis that personality influences the relationship between gray matter volume (GMV) and cognitive/neuropsychiatric MS features.MethodsParticipants were 98 patients with MS who underwent magnetic resonance imaging and were tested with the Symbol Digit Modalities Test and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, the latter providing measures of depression and euphoria that can be characteristic of MS, that is, cheerful indifference and disinhibition. Personality traits were assessed with the NEO Five Factor Inventory. We examined the correlation between personality traits and both GMV and symptoms, and then modeled mediation and moderation influences on the relationships between GMV and cognitive/neuropsychiatric features.ResultsLinear regression modeling revealed that GMV (r = 0.54, p < .001) and NEO Five Factor Inventory low conscientiousness (r = 0.36, p = .001) were associated with cognitive function, but no mediator or moderator effects were observed. However, conscientiousness mediated the relationship between GMV and symptoms of euphoria (p = .002). The moderator analysis revealed a significant influence of high neuroticism on the GMV-euphoria relationship (p = .029).ConclusionsLow conscientiousness and high neuroticism are associated with neuropsychiatric complications in MS, and each influences the relationship between GMV and euphoria. The findings suggest that patients with low conscientiousness are at higher risk for MS-associated cognitive dysfunction and neuropsychiatric symptoms, a conclusion that has implications for the emerging role of personality in clinical neuroscience.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Personality psychology, Magnetic resonance imaging, Multiple sclerosis, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory


Sandal, G. M. Bye, H. H. & Pallesen, S. (2012). Personality trait inferences of Turkish immigrant and neutral targets: An experimental study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 528-533. The study investigated whether personality traits attributed to immigrant targets differ from personality inferences made for a neutral target, and whether trait attributions differ for assimilated and integrated immigrant targets. Participants (n = 340) were randomized to one of three conditions in which they read the same story about a person, but where the person was described as either: (a) an assimilated Turkish immigrant; (b) an integrated Turkish immigrant; or © neutral (no nationality or religious practice indicated). Subsequently, they rated the personality of the described person on the NEO-Five Factor Inventory (observer rating version) and completed the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (Impression Management scale) with reference to themselves. Both immigrant targets were rated as significantly higher on extraversion and lower on neuroticism than the neutral target. The integrated target was rated as more open than the neutral target, and as higher than the assimilated target on neuroticism when controlling for impression management.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, 16 Personality Factors, Psychoticism