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Personality Traits: The Power of Personality

Do Certain Personality Traits Affect The Ability To Better Cope With Arthritis?


Updated January 26, 2010

Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality. ~ Erich Fromm (1900 - 1980)

Power of Personality Traits

Much has been written about positive coping skills and stress management as it relates to chronic arthritis. Within the last decade, research has begun to focus on personality traits. Personality psychologists have contributed information on the relationship between basic personality disposition and forms of adaptation.

Chronic arthritis introduces many challenges and causes many changes in a persons life. Problems caused by arthritis that make adaptation necessary can include:

Personal dispositions combine with the many challenges to shape the persons perception and reaction to the stress.

Personality Traits: Five Broad Categories

Your personality is formed from feelings, thought patterns, interests, and other behaviors. Individual characteristics is what makes each of us unique. Most personality traits can be understood as aspects of five broad categories (McCrae,1992). The five categories of personality traits are:

  • Neuroticism
  • Extraversion
  • Openness To Experience
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness


Neuroticism includes the attributes of being anxious, self-pitying, tense, touchy, unstable, and worrying.


Extraversion can be described as active, assertive, energetic, enthusiastic, outgoing, and talkative.

Openness To Experience

Openness to experience applies to someone who is curious, imaginative, insightful, with wide interests.


Agreeableness implies appreciative, forgiving, generous, kind, sympathetic, and trusting.


Conscientiousness depicts someone who is efficient, organized, reliable, and responsible.

It is obvious that people possessing personality traits within the categories of Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness have more effective coping skills than people with traits falling within the category of Neuroticism. "Coping is personality in action under stress", (Bolger 1990).

Can Having Arthritis Affect Your Personality?

The question though becomes "Does having chronic arthritis affect your personality?" In response to the mounting difficulties caused by arthritis does a person become:

  • more neurotic?
  • less open?
  • less agreeable?
  • less conscientious?

Does your disease affect your personality, just as your personality impacts your disease? Think about this question in terms of yourself. Has your arthritis changed your personality in any way?

Related Resources

Source: Personality and Coping: A Reconceptualization (P. Costa, M. Somerfield, R. McCrae)

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