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Understanding personality for decision-making, longevity, and mental health
Date:1/17/2013

neural activity in a region of the brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in evaluating rewards. In the task, this region responded more strongly to the possibility of immediate rewards than to the possibility of delayed rewards. "This is a brain region where we have previously shown that extraversion predicts the size of the region, so our new study provides some converging evidence for the importance of sensitivity to reward as the basis of extraversion," DeYoung says.

More broadly, DeYoung works on understanding "what makes people tick, by explaining the most important personality traits, what psychological processes those traits represent, and how those processes are generated by the brain," he says. "The brain is an incredibly complicated system, and I think it's impressive that neuroscience is making such great progress in understanding it. Linking brain function to personality is another step in understanding how the brain makes us who we are."

Personality to improve health

Researchers are also finding that personality influences health over time. In particular, new lifespan models that measure both personality and health early and late in life, and multiple times in between, are documenting that health is the result not only of genetics and environmental factors but also of changeable personality characteristics.

"Personality develops in childhood and is probably most malleable in childhood," says Sarah Hampson of the Oregon Research Institute. Childhood is when habits first become established, so understanding how differences in personality affect health could point toward positive behaviors that would help children later in life.

For example in a new study, soon to be published in Health Psychology, Hampson and colleagues found that children lower in conscientiousness traits including being irresponsible and careless had worse health 40 years later, including greater obesity and high
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Contact: Lisa M.P. Munoz
spsp.publicaffairs@gmail.com
703-951-3195
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Source:Eurekalert

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