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We all have days when things aren’t going right, we don’t feel good about ourselves or you’re just noticing all the negatives. It can be difficult to constantly see the glass as being ‘half full’, but what if viewing life through a negative lens is the norm for you?
Experiencing a lot of negative emotions and finding yourself steering clear of social interactions is a combination of personality traits that might mean you’re high on the Type D personality scale. Dr Jeromy Anglim, a lecturer in Deakin’s School of Psychology, explains, ‘research shows that Type D personality is a combination of high neuroticism and low extroversion.’
Inspired by the Type A and B personality concepts, which came about through the research of a pair of cardiologists in the 70s, Dr Anglim says the ‘D’ stands for ‘Distressed’.
Type D personality emerged from a study in the Netherlands run by psychologist Dr Johan Denollet. ‘Denollet and colleagues used statistical approaches to group people with coronary heart disease based on their personality,’ Dr Anglim explains.
‘They found that one group experienced more negative emotions and were less socially outgoing, and that those people tended to experience worse health outcomes.’
The key traits that define Type D personality are high social inhibition and high negative affectivity.
Dr Anglim says, ‘social inhibition represents the tendency to withhold negative emotions for fear of rejection or judgement by others.’ It combines elements of neuroticism – an inclination towards feelings of anxiety, depression, self-doubt and shyness – and introversion.
‘Negative affectivity represents the tendency to experience negative emotions,’ Dr Anglim says. It’s also associated with neuroticism. ‘It is linked with the experience of stress, depression and low life satisfaction. It involves viewing the world through a negative lens, and is also linked with maladaptive coping strategies.’ These are things like social isolation and avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations, or developing a reliance on certain people or objects as a kind of safety blanket.
Dr Anglim is keen to acknowledge that personality falls on a continuum, and everyone fits somewhere on a distribution.
‘It’s like when we talk about height. We could say that anyone taller than six foot has the “tall type”, but it would probably be more valid just to measure their actual height,’ Dr Anglim says. ‘The exact point where you draw the line is somewhat arbitrary.’
If you want an indication of where you might fall on the Type D personality scale, take our quiz below…
There are four possible outcomes when combining the results of the two quizzes:
Low social inhibition and low negative affectivity:
It’s unlikely you have a Type D personality. You’re probably quite confident in yourself, and don’t experience many negative emotions.
High social inhibition and low negative affectivity:
You might be quite introverted, but you probably don’t experience many feelings of self-doubt, stress, or that you aren’t good enough.
Low social inhibition and high negative affectivity:
You might experience a lot of negative emotions, but you’re quite extroverted in social situations.
High social inhibition and high negative affectivity:
You might have a Type D personality. Being high in both social inhibition and negative affectivity possibly means you’re quite high on the Type D personality scale.
Dr Anglim says that generally, neuroticism and extroversion, which are fundamental personality traits, remain fairly stable throughout life. However, he says that if you are unhappy with some aspects of your personality, there are things you can do.
‘It may be more useful to focus on more specific behaviours and skills that are more amenable to change.
‘Or alternatively, you should try to create a social and life environment that works well with your personality,’ Dr Anglim concludes.
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