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These Are The Traits That Make A Healthy Personality, According To Psychologists


Katy Evans

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor

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Do you have a healthy personality? Or do you have some slightly less desirable traits? Where do you fall on the spectrum? Well, now you can find out as researchers claim they have identified the optimal personality profile for a psychologically healthy person.

In a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Societal Psychology (pre-print available to read here), psychologists from the University of California, Davis looked into what basic personality traits are key to a psychologically well-adjusted individual in the hope of creating the ultimate model for a healthy personality.


To determine this profile, they surveyed 137 expert personality psychologists, and 77 positive psychology scholars, asking them to describe their idea of a healthy personality, based on the list of defined traits used by psychologists known as the Big Five: Openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Each of these is also broken down into further facets that describe more specific behaviors.

They then asked the same question to over 500 undergraduate students from Texas and Michigan to see what a layperson considers the traits of a psychologically healthy person to be.

Across both groups, they found an overwhelming agreement of the key traits identified. From this, they generated a healthy personality profile that included these traits: high levels of openness to feelings, straightforwardness, warmth, positive emotions, and, unsurprisingly, low levels of neuroticism.

It’s important to point out here that no single trait necessarily indicates a healthy personality, just as no single trait necessarily indicates an unhealthy personality, so don’t get too worried if you're looking at that list and thinking, that’s not me.


Having determined what they considered a healthy profile the researchers then had to test their theory to see if it could be used to assess healthy personality functioning at a personal level.

They did this by using the individual personality test scores of 3,000 people from seven independent samples and creating a "healthy personality index" for each person, and then comparing them to the "prototypical" healthy profile.

As predicted, those that fit the healthy profile indicated they were better adjusted by scoring high on self-esteem, optimism, a clear self-view, and good self-regulation skills. They also demonstrated they were non-aggressive, unlikely to exploit others, and self-sufficient.

Interestingly, high test scores were positively associated with two aspects often linked to narcissism and psychopathy: boldness and not easily affected by stress.


However, the basic traits identified in the profile appeared a reliable indicator of psychologically healthy functioning people.  

"We believe our results have both practical implications for the assessment of and research on health personality functioning as well as deeper implications for theories about psychological adaptation and functioning," lead author Dr Wiebke Bleidorn said in a statement.

"In addition to providing a comprehensive description of a psychologically healthy individual in terms of basic traits, the profile generated and tested provides a practical assessment tool for research on health personality functioning."

Find out for yourself where you fall on the Healthy Personality Scale here


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