Personality, Disease, and Self-healing

Howard S. Friedman

in The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342819
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Personality, Disease, and Self-healing


Individuals vary significantly in disease-proneness, recuperation, health, and longevity. Some of this variability can be predicted from personality, which captures biopsychosocial patterns that unfold across the lifespan. This is especially true when considering how personality interacts with psychosocial contexts. This chapter presents conceptual models of and reviews research linking core personality traits to health and longevity. Conscientiousness predicts better physical health and longevity, for a variety of reasons. The influences of extraversion, sociability, and agreeableness depend on a variety of situations and lifestyles tied to particular social groups. Neuroticism and negative affectivity are often conceptualized as negative traits that lead to illness, but the evidence is mixed; in light of certain social stresses, realistic pessimism and worrying may be health protective. Studying deeper and more sophisticated models of links between personality and health leads to an enhanced understanding of individual differences in life pathways toward health or illness.

Keywords: Personality; self-healing; conscientiousness; neuroticism; optimism; health

Article.  20063 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology

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