Entries in Personality (11)


What Do Your Shoes Say About You?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LAWRENCE, Kan.) -- What's in a shoe? Surprising clues about a person's personality, a new study found.

From photos of shoes, college students were able to accurately predict the owners' age, gender and approximate income, as well as some subtler character quirks.

"You can get an amazing amount of information from a person in just a fraction of a second," said Christian Crandall, a professor of social psychology at the University of Kansas and lead author of the study published in the August issue of the Journal of Research in Personality.  "Nobody doubts that faces, heads and hairdos tell a lot about a person.  But we thought, 'What about the other weird parts?  What about shoes?'"

Sometimes fancy, sometimes functional, shoes are the "sole" of an outfit, according to Crandall. "Clothes are a costume, and shoes are a part of that," he said.  "You're never more dressed up than your shoes."

Crandall and colleagues used personality tests to see which shoe-based stereotypes stood up. "Sometimes they're accurate, sometimes they're not," he said.  

Here's what your shoes say about you:


People who wear high-tops tend to be standoffish and introverted, the study found.  They're also less likely to be agreeable and conscientious.  But when it comes to high-tops, Crandall said the rest of the outfit can change everything.  "If someone's wearing a suit and red canvas Chuck Taylors, I know about the person's willingness to bend the rules a bit," he said.  "Red canvas shoes are somewhat interesting, but red canvas shoes paired with a suit say much more."  One stereotype that failed to hold up is that high-top owners are less emotionally stable.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, people who wore stylish new shoes were likely to earn more money, the study found.  "If someone's wearing Christian Louboutins, we know they probably care about their appearance and have money to buy expensive shoes," said Crandall.  "That red sole says, 'I spent a lot on these.'"  Stereotypes that high-fashion shoe owners are less agreeable, more conscientious and more likely to be Republican failed to match up with people's actual personalities and political views.

Snazzy Sneaks

People who wear bright, colorful, brand name sneakers tend to be more emotionally stable, according to the study.  They're also less likely to have attachment anxiety, a personality trait marked by ambivalence and negativity.  But stereotypes that people with flashy footwear are more extroverted and open to experiences didn't hold up.  "People often choose shoes to send a message, but the message isn't necessarily true," said Crandall.  "Fun-looking shoes do not a fun person make."

Old Standbys

People who wear worn-in shoes tend to be more extroverted and emotionally stable, according to the study.  Worn out shoes in need of repair, however, generate stereotypes that the owner is conscientious but standoffish.  But those stereotypes didn't hold up.

Comfy Kicks

Despite the stereotype that Birkenstock owners are liberal, people who wear comfortable shoes have no distinctive personality traits or political views, according to the study. "We had plenty of Birkenstock owners in our study," said Crandall, who disputes the comfort of the cork-bottomed sandals.  "I have high arches," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Centenarians' Positive Attitude Linked to Long Life

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Living to a very old age may be "in the genes" as the saying goes, still a recent study published in the journal Aging suggests that certain personality traits make up a major part of the mix of longevity genes.

Researchers found that having a positive attitude and a sense of humor could play a role in living a longer, healthier life.  They developed a questionnaire designed to identify certain genetically-based personality traits and used it to assess 243 Ashkenazi Jewish adults between 95 and 107 years of age. The investigators chose this population because their genetic similarity would make it easier to account for genetic differences in personality.

"The results indicated they had two things -- a positive attitude for life, meaning they are optimistic, easygoing, extraverted, laughed more and expressed emotions rather than bottling them up," said Dr. Nil Barzilai, a study co-author and director of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Institute for Aging Research.

The study participants also were less neurotic and more conscientious than a representative sample of other Americans.

Based on census data, centenarians make up about .2 percent of the U.S. population, but the number has been rapidly increasing, the authors wrote.

Previous research has suggested that the oldest adults may be genetically predisposed to living longer and healthier -- both physiologically and psychologically -- and that personality can affect a person's physical health.

"There's an interaction between personality and physiology," said Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging.  Small was not involved in Barzilai's study, but has done research in this area. "It makes sense that being more positive causes less stress and seems to get people on the right track to live better."

The genes, it turns out, play a less important role in determining longevity.

"Several studies have found that genetics accounts for only about one-third of how long and well we live," said Small, who is also co-author of The Alzheimer's Prevention Program.

Barzilai added that it's still not known precisely how personality influences longevity.

"We still need to find out what the cause-and-effect relationship is," he said.  "We don't know if we can change longevity by having a positive attitude, or if achieving longevity causes a positive attitude."

They also hope to determine whether centenarians' positive outlook persisted throughout their entire lives, or if their personalities changed between the ages of 70 and 100, as some data have suggested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Surly People Tend to Like Vicious Dogs, Study Finds

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many people believe dogs match the personality of their owners, and in a new study that seems to confirm that belief, British researchers say they’ve found that surly people tend to own aggressive dogs.

For the study, researchers at the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology had human participants fill out personality tests that also included questions to determine which breeds of dogs they liked.

The tests reveal that younger people and individuals with “low levels of agreeableness” -- those who are generally less concerned about others' well-being and may be suspicious, unfriendly and competitive -- tend to prefer dog breeds that are considered more aggressive, such as boxers and pit bull terriers.

Lead researcher Vincent Egan says there’s no evidence of a connection between a person liking an aggressive breed of dog and delinquent behavior.  He says there's also no evidence that having an aggressive breed of dog is a “status display” meant to show off or attract members of the opposite sex.

The study is published in the June edition of the journal Anthrozoos.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What Your Dog Says About Your Personality

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) --  They can't talk, but dogs say a lot about their owners' personalities, a new study has found.

"People tend to report that their dog's personality is quite similar to their own, but we wanted to see if these stereotypes actually stand up to scrutiny," said study author Lance Workman, a psychologist at Bath Spa University in the U.K.

Using an online survey, Workman and colleagues probed the personalities of 1,000 dog owners and found some surprising trends.

"Among the owners of seven breed groups, there were differences in personality," said Workman, who is presenting the study on Friday at the British Psychological Society annual conference in London.

Here's what your canine companion says about you:

-- Sporting Dogs: People who owned sporting dogs, like Labrador retrievers and cocker spaniels, appeared more agreeable and conscientious in the survey.

-- Herding Dogs: Owners of herding dogs, like German shepherds or sheepdogs, were more extroverted.

-- Hound Dogs: People who owned hound dogs, like greyhounds and beagles, were more emotionally stable, according to Workman's survey.

-- Toy Dogs: Those who owned toy dogs, like Chihuahuas or Yorkshire terriers, were more agreeable, more conscientious and more open to new experiences.

-- Non-Sporting Dogs: Owners of utility dogs, like English bulldogs, Shar-Peis and Chow Chows, were more conscientious and extroverted.

-- Terriers: No personality traits stood out in the survey among people who owned terriers, like the Staffordshire bull or the Scottie dog.

-- Working Dogs: Like terrier owners, people who owned working dogs, such as Dobermans or schnauzers, had no standout personality traits.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nice or Nasty? New Research Answers Human Nature Question

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) -- New research is proving that humans are naturally pretty nice with “pro-social tendencies” and are not as “nasty” as previously thought, according to a top primate behavior expert.

Frans de Waal, a biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that new research was helping to challenge earlier beliefs -- popular until more than a decade ago -- that humans were competitive, aggressive and plain-old mean, according to the Discovery Channel.

He showed videos from laboratories of a monkey displaying emotional distress after being denied a treat that another had received as well as a rat turning down a snack to help another rat escape from a trap.

De Waal, the author of The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, said the new research revealed that animals were naturally capable of “reciprocity, fairness, empathy and consolation.”

He told the audience in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday that human children and most higher animals, such as primates and elephants, are “moral” because they need to cooperate with each other to reproduce and pass on their genes, the Discovery Channel reported.

But he told reporters that animals empathized with those within their “in group” but that courtesy was not so easily extended in the human world.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Personality Causing Obesity?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Could your personality be making your fat? Tiffanie Davis Henry, a therapist and co-host of ABC’s The Revolution, appeared on Good Morning America on Wednesday to weigh in on just that topic.  And she said that your personality -- and the connection between emotions and what and when you eat -- could indeed be making you fat.

Specific personality types are more prone to weight gain.  Henry broke down various personality traits and how they could lead to packing on the pounds.

The Negative Nellies

We all know that person in the office who always has something negative to say.  That negativity might be uncalled for, even in bad situations, and Nellies are so down on themselves that they hurt themselves with food, Henry said.  The bad attitude might actually be affecting every aspect of life, including eating habits, she said.

Negative Nellies can turn things around by doing a check to see if their feelings are excessive.  They also need to realize that eating the food will make them feel worse, she said. Henry suggested that they find someone to blow off steam to, and to get a real read on just how bad a situation actually is.

The Instant Gratifier

This is the person who cannot say no.  They have to eat it now, then feel bad afterward and gain weight quickly, Henry said.

To change that behavior, Instant Gratifiers should soothe their moods, the Atlanta therapist said.  They have to look at what they are eating and decide whether they’re eating to avoid dealing with problems or issues in their lives.  They should tell themselves that having that slice of cake will keep them from getting into those jeans, and they’ll find it easier to delay that gratification, she said.

The People Pleaser

Many mothers are in this category.  These are the people who cannot say no, always put others first and themselves last, and who are so busy caring for everyone else that they’ll eat on the go, Henry said.

The solution is to stop making sure that everyone else is happy, and to realize that when you're happy, everyone’s happy, Henry said.  She added that the more someone says ‘yes’ to others, the more they’re actually saying ‘no’ to themselves.  By putting your own needs first, you can better take care of everyone else, she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Happiness Declining? Twitter Analysis Says It Is

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- From what celebrities are doing at any given minute to the little things that irk ordinary people, there’s a lot to learn from Twitter.

Researchers at the University of Vermont used the social media service to learn about people’s happiness and, through an analysis of billions of words used in millions of tweets, determined that societal happiness is on the decline.

Over a period of three years, scientists gathered 46 billion words found in tweets by 63 million users around the world and, with the help of a web site, determined the “happiness” of the 10,000 most common words in the English language. "Laughter," for instance, got an 8.5 on a scale of one to nine, and “food” came in at 7.44. “Truck” was a better-than-average 5.48. “Greed” registered a 3.06; “terrorist,” 1.30.

“We see that after a gradual upward trend that ran from January to April 2009, the overall time series has shown a gradual downward trend, accelerating somewhat over the first half of 2011,” wrote the researchers, led by Peter Dodds, a scientist in the University of Vermont’s department of mathematics and statistics. The study is published online in PLoS ONE.

During 2009 and 2010, the happiest days, based on the number of positive words used, were Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and other holidays.

“All of these observations are sensible, and reflect a strong (though not universal) degree of social synchrony,” the authors wrote.

The non-annual event that was the most positive day was April 29, 2011, the day Prince William and Kate Middleton were married.  Tweets on this day were full of positive words such as “wedding,” “beautiful” and “kiss.”

“Negative days typically arise from unexpected societal trauma due for example to a natural disaster or death of a celebrity,” according to the study.

The day the world learned of the death of Osama bin Laden ranked as the day of the lowest level of happiness, judging by the frequency of negative words like “dead,” “death” and “killed.”

The Chilean earthquake in February 2010 also ranked low in happiness, as did the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the October 2010 slew of storms in the U.S. Declines in happiness were also evident after news of the U.S. economic bailout and the spread of the swine flu.

The researchers also found that happiness peaks over the weekend and dips on Mondays and Tuesdays.

But they also say while their study is an interesting look at how people feel on a given day or after a specific event, the findings don’t necessarily reflect people’s overall happiness.

“There is an important psychological distinction between an individual’s current, experiential happiness and their longer term, reflective evaluation of their life,” they wrote.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sweethearts Tend to Hit the Sweets, Says Study

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GETTYSBURG, Pa.) -- As Halloween approaches, parents around the country will warn their kids not to eat all their candy at once. It may rot their teeth out and make them gain a few pounds, but it also may show just how sweet they are.

That’s according to new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Brian Meier, an associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College, and his colleagues analyzed five studies that related to taste and behavior. Even after controlling for positive mood and reward, researchers found that people who eat sweet foods tend to be more agreeable and cooperative than those who eat non-sweet foods.

“It looks like metaphors related to taste sensations in terms of behavior are more than just devices for communication,” said Meier. “There is this theory of embodiment. People who we considered ‘sweet’ preferred sweet foods.”

Those who enjoyed sweets also seemed to be more likely to volunteer. Specifically for one study, people were more likely to help clean up their city after a major flood.

Of course, several limitations put the results in question. The studies were small -- the largest included 108 participants. The results were self-reported, correlated in result, and researchers did not test for other tastes (i.e. Are people who prefer bitter foods more bitter by nature?).

So, it’s a bit early to say that people who eat sweets are sweeter and those who load on the salt are saltier, but researchers plan to expand their research in the future by studying other tastes.

“We’d like to examine taste with other personalities,” said Meier. “It may tell us a lot more about how people differ in nature than we think it does.”

In the meantime, go ahead and eat that bit of chocolate. Hey, you’re just showing others how darn sweet you are.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Twitter Used to Track the World’s Mood; Shows We’re Happiest in Morning

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ITHACA, N.Y.) -- Twitter is now so big, and so constantly used, that two Cornell University researchers were able to use it as a sort of “global mood ring” to monitor the world’s feelings.

By analyzing the tweets of 2.4 million people in 84 countries, they report, they found that people generally wake up in good spirits, but things go downhill as the workday goes on. On weekends the pattern holds as well, though everything happens two hours later because people sleep in.

The patterns were consistent across the globe, they say, despite widely varying cultures and religions.

The researchers, graduate student Scott Golder and sociology professor Michael Macy, say they ran 509 million tweets through a computer program designed to discern moods from the users’ use of key words. The results are published in this week’s edition of the journal Science.

“People criticize the Internet for being mundane or filled with gossip, but that’s really not so,” said Golder in a telephone interview. “The Internet records everything, so Twitter is a giant archive of time-coded conversations.”

The researchers said there are so many tweets that there were more than enough to show mood patterns around the world. They confirmed the weekend mood boost, for instance, by looking at traffic from the United Arab Emirates, where weekends are celebrated on Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday.

The survey of course does have its limits. Golder admitted, “We’re measuring the expression of something, not the action itself.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Babies Born Anxious or Is Anxiety Thrust Upon Them?

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Parents often say their child’s personality was apparent from Day One, but can adult personality really be predicted from the way a baby behaves while still in diapers?

That was the question researchers investigated in a study published Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Researchers followed 135 children from infancy through early adulthood and found that, for boys at least, being a fussy, reactive infant in the first few months of life was associated with a stronger neurological reaction to unfamiliar faces at age 18 -- a reaction researchers believe signals a propensity toward social anxiety and possibly depression later on.

When the study subjects were four months old, researchers evaluated whether they were “high reactive,” meaning they fussed and cried when presented with loud noises or unfamiliar smells, or “low reactive,” meaning they didn’t react in this fearful or agitated manner when presented with new stimuli. Researchers suspected that the “high reactive” infants would continue to have a negative response to unfamiliar stimuli up through adulthood, though as adults, this fear of the unfamiliar might manifest as social anxiety, generalized anxiety or depression.

They found that this was true to an extent among the boys in their group: When shown unfamiliar faces, the boys that had been high-reactive infants tended to have stronger responses in the part of the brain that processes threat and novelty when compared to subjects who had been less fussy as infants.

"The idea is that when these kids walk into a room of strangers, their brains respond more,” Dr. Carl Schwartz, the Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatrist who led the study, told ABC News.  They are interpreting the situation as a threat, whereas an extrovert wouldn’t, he says. “These are the kids who are afraid to raise their hands in class, who don’t date in high school,” Schwartz says.

"I would never want to say that this is deterministic,” he adds.  It’s not that someone with a reactive temperament is doomed to be anxious or introverted, but these results suggest that it might be harder for a reactive infant to grow up into an “extreme extrovert” because there is something happening early on that affects how their brains react, he says.

In the past few decades, psychologists have started to pay more attention to the disposition babies express very early on in life, and how temperament may serve as a window into a child’s future personality and mental health.

But looking at only the temperament may take the “nature” side of the equation too far,  Jerry Aldridge, a professor of early childhood education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told

While the temperament may be inborn, says Aldridge, it’s how that temperament is nurtured, or not nurtured, that determines whether a fearful infant might grow up into an anxious adult.

"The link between early temperament and propensity to psychological disorder later in life has a lot to do with the environment. Children whose environment supports their temperaments do better than those whose environment causes a ‘badness of fit’ between the child and the environment,” he says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio