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Personality Reboots Are Possible, Studies Suggest

HealthDay News
by By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Aug 28th 2019

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Do you ever think that being more at ease at social and business functions could make you happier or possibly help you get ahead at work?

Your personality greatly influences your life because it influences so many aspects of your day-to-day world, from personal to business relationships, from your mental to your physical well-being.

The Five Traits That Define Personality

  • How outgoing or extroverted you are
  • How open you are to new experiences
  • How agreeable you are
  • How conscientious or self-disciplined you are
  • Your level of emotional stability

The old thinking was that your personality was set early in adulthood or even younger. But a research review done at the University of Chicago and published in the journal Psychology Bulletin shed new light on the topic.

Researchers looked at information gleaned from 200 studies on mental health treatments ranging from medications to psychotherapy. Though changes in personality weren't the direct focus of the studies, these changes were revealed when treatment effects were analyzed. The researchers found out that personality traits can change -- and change for the better.

The reasons study participants had for starting therapy influenced how deep their personality changes were. For instance, people seeking help with emotional stability issues (like anxiety or personality disorders) and those wanting to become less introverted had the deepest changes. People needing help for eating disorders or substance abuse had the least change, though the researchers couldn't pinpoint why.

One factor that mattered less was the type of therapy a participant used -- no single approach led to greater personality changes than another.

Another finding was that some people started to see results after just two weeks, and the changes were not only meaningful, but long-lasting.

If you're motivated to improve your personality, it may be more within reach than you thought.

More information

Learn about options for therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, at GoodTherapy.org.