Science-Backed "Healthy Personality" Test Points Out Your Worst Traits

Do you have angry hostility or an openness to feelings?

We know that health is shaped by both the mind and the body, but which conditions actually make for good holistic health? The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, allegedly believed a healthy person was one who could both “love and work.” Meanwhile, noted psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived two Nazi concentration camps, argued that healthy people were those who imbued their lives with meaning.

In a new study, available now as a preprint on ArXiv, scientists quantified these and other “competing visions of human personalities” and created a viable and systematically tested method for determining whether or not a person has a healthy personality. This healthy personality profile is essentially a measurement of how close one comes to fitting the description of a prototypical healthy individual. If you’d like to see how you measure up, you can take the personality test yourself to receive an assessment.

“We tested and found support for the hypothesis that people with personalities similar to this prototype are indeed more healthy,” first author Wiebke Bleidorn, Ph.D., tells Inverse. According to this prototype, she explains, healthy personalities are associated with higher self-esteem, better self-control, lower levels of aggression, and higher life satisfaction.

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New tool developed to test for a healthy personality. 

Bleidorn and her team used the “Big Five” model of personality traits as a framework for creating this prototype of a person with a healthy personality. The Big Five is a set of traits that are considered domains of human personality: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. These traits can then be broken down into 30 different facets.

The team asked psychologists with expertise in trait psychology to describe their idea of a psychologically healthy person within this framework. The prototype that emerged was the universally agreed upon points that emerged from these ratings. Then, 3,000 study participants were tested to see how closely they aligned with the prototype.

Subsequent surveys revealed that the participants with high scores on the “healthy personality index” were well-adjusted, optimistic, self-regulated, and had a clear self-view. These people also scored low in aggression and meanness, were relatively immune to stress, and were unlikely to exploit others.

“We found that a psychologically healthy person can be characterized as being capable to experience and express emotions,” says Bleidorn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. These people are straightforward and warm — the sort of person you’d actually like to spend time with. Bleidorn says that this healthy profile is actually very similar to the normative profile of an average person, which suggests that “most people tend to be more healthy than unhealthy.”

Knowing what makes for a healthy personality — and knowing how to test for that — isn’t just a science-backed way to know thyself. For scientists, this new method can be an advantageous tool in assessing the inner state of possibly unhealthy people and learning in what ways they can provide psychological aide. It’s a practical assessment — and way more legit than any personality quiz based off which cat you think is the cutest plus where you would like to go on vacation.