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Conscientiousness: An Introduction

Conscientiousness is one’s ability to follow socially prescribed norms, be goal-directed, plan, and delay gratification. It is included in the Big Five Taxonomy of personality traits and makes one diligent and careful.

Characteristics of Conscientious Individuals

Conscientious individuals tend to be:
- Very organized
- Self-disciplined
- Reliable
- Workaholics
- Sticklers for their routines
- Critical thinkers
- Problem solvers

Importance of Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness affects one’s behavior and compels them to do well in their life, career, and workplace.

Research has found that good health has been associated with conscientiousness. This is because people who are conscientious are less likely to indulge in unhealthy habits like drugs, alcohol, and smoking. Also, their self-discipline and avoidance of stressful situations drive them to lead healthy lives.

Conscientiousness can shape an individual’s career choices, the relationships they make, friendships, marriage stability, and other aspects that influence their life, health, and longevity. A study reported by Patrick L. Hill and his colleagues from the University of Illinois suggests that having high conscientiousness has cognitive benefits, which is also related to longevity.

How Does Conscientiousness Influence Other Characteristics?

Conscientiousness is one of the many characteristics that shape an individual’s behavior and personality. It is associated with five sub-traits, namely:
- Self-efficacy
- Orderliness
- Dutifulness
- Self-discipline
- Cautiousness
- Dependability
- Thoroughness

Genetics and Conscientiousness

Most, if not all of our traits, are influenced by genes.

Studies have shown that conscientiousness has a heritability of about 50 percent.

The genes that are associated with conscientiousness include SMOC1, LAMB1, DYRK1A, and COL19A1.

The SMOC1 Gene

The SMOC1 gene contains instruction for the production of secreted modular calcium-binding protein 1. This gene is located on chromosome 14. The SMOC-1 protein binds to other proteins and regulates the growth and development of tissues throughout the body.

rs11626232
rs11626232 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the SMOC1 gene. It has been associated with conscientiousness levels. The C allele of rs11626232 has been linked to lower levels of conscientiousness.

Non-genetic Factors that Influence Conscientiousness

The Big 5 personality traits work together, giving each one of us a complex personality. Each of these traits influences the other. Also, a person’s personality is not constant but keeps changing as they go from childhood into teenage and adulthood.

Some factors that influence a person’s personality and, thereby, individual traits like conscientiousness are:
- Age
- Education
- Life experiences at different stages

Recommendations for Improving Conscientiousness

Conscious effort and practice can help you increase your conscientiousness. The Harvard Medical School recommends the following to improve your conscientiousness:
Focus on specifics: Set your mind on being punctual, or start with organizing your desk. You might see a difference. A start to be more conscientious will help you to achieve more.
Make daily plans and stick to them: Create a to-do list every day and try to complete it at the end of the day. This will encourage you to be more organized.
Use reminders: If you are naturally not a conscientious person, you will not be able to do any work as planned. Hence, it is recommended to set reminders in any of your gadgets.
Stay social: Staying in touch with your family and friends will motivate you to be conscientious.

Here are some additional tips:
- Eliminate distractions while performing a task.
- Reward yourself for showing conscientiousness, and it will act as positive reinforcement.
- Listen to others more as that can help you understand people and develop emotional intelligence.

Summary

  1. Conscientiousness is said to be a part of the Big Five Taxonomy of personality traits.
  2. An individual with high conscientiousness shows a great deal of self-discipline, planning and is goal-oriented.
  3. Being conscientious has been associated with a healthy, longer life as these individuals tend to steer clear of stressful situations, have a regular workout schedule, and practice a healthy lifestyle.
  4. Two main genes that have been shown to play a role in an individual having this quality are SMOC1 and LAMB1.
  5. People with a high level of conscientiousness also show other characteristics such as commitment, high emotional intelligence, thoroughness, and excellent organizational skills.
  6. An individual can also improve his conscientiousness using simple techniques performed consistently.

References

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/raising-your-conscientiousness
https://www.genecards.org/cgi-bin/carddisp.pl?gene=SMOC1
https://www.nature.com/articles/4001896

Openness: An Introduction

Openness is one of the Big Five personality traits. The Big Five Personality Traits, also called the OCEAN or Five-Factor Model (FFM), is one of the popular models suggested for grouping personality traits. The five personality traits in this model include:
- Conscientiousness
- Agreeableness
- Neuroticism
- Openness
- Extraversion/Extroversion

This personality trait is also referred to as openness to new experiences. People with a higher tendency for openness move out of their comfort zone easily.They usually have a broad range of interests and are open to learning about new things and experimenting. People with this trait are more curious and seek new experiences like going on challenging trips or embracing different cultures. They experiment with new activities that promote both personal and professional growth.

Characteristics of people who are highly likely to be open include:
- High creativity
- Adventurousness
- Openness to trying new things
- Ability to take on new challenges
- Abstract thinking
- Good imagination
- Diverse interests
- Innovative thinking

Characteristics of people who are less likely to be open include:
- Avoiding change
- Traditional thinking
- Less imagination
- Uncomfortable with trying new things
- Preference for familiar experiences
- Narrow range of interests

A study published in the PLOS One journal reports that participants’ openness to experience influences their career growth. Participants who scored higher in this trait were more likely to move up into managerial and professional positions.

Another study published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour showed that people with high openness to experience tend to look for change and novelty and are more prone to job-hopping and greater job instability. These individuals are likely to take up jobs with higher job status or leadership positions.

Openness influences various characteristics including
- Creativity
- Interest to learn more and gain knowledge
- Social and political attitude
- Relationships.

Genetics and Openness

The heritability of personality traits has been studied and established. Findings show that there is a significant heritability estimate for openness to experience. People of certain genetic types have a higher likelihood of being open to new experiences and may exhibit characteristics such as active imagination, tendency to prefer variety, curiosity on an intellectual level, and aesthetic sensitivity, while others may be less open to experiences.

There are several personality tests available to understand your personality better. The personality tests are questionnaires that contain several statements. People need to respond, usually on a scale of 1 to 5, based on how much they agree with the statement given. Understanding your genes can also help you understand your personality better.

The ZNF180 Gene

The ZNF180 gene carries instructions for the production of a protein called Zinc Finger Protein 180. These proteins have various functions and usually interact with nucleic acids. Variations in this gene have been found to influence personality traits.

rs644148
rs644148 is a single nucleotide polymorphism SNP in the ZNF180 gene. Individuals with the G allele of this SNP are more open to new experiences.

The FUNDC1 Gene

The FUNDC1 gene carries instructions for the production of FUN14 Domain Containing 1 protein. The exact function of this protein is not known, but variations in this gene are shown to influence the openness trait of an individual.

rs6610953
rs6610953 is an SNP in the FUNDC1 gene. Individuals carrying the G allele are more open to new experiences.

Non-Genetic Factors That Influence Openness

Both nature, referring to genetics, and nurture, referring to environmental factors, play a role in influencing personality traits. Certain non-genetic factors that influence openness include:

Age
Studies show that as people age, they tend to become less open to new experiences.

Location
People who live on the coast are found to be more open than those living in the middle of the country.

Environmental factors
Shared environmental factors are used to differentiate the general environment between different families. Gross paternal income is one such factor. Non-shared environmental factors are used to indicate differences in the same household. Differential treatment for siblings is one such example. A study reported that both these factors could influence the variations in openness among individuals.

Recommendations To Become More Open To New Experiences

Personality traits, in general, are very complex. There are no good or bad traits. Each trait has its unique strengths. Each trait is a factor that shapes your life and your personality as you go ahead. Being on a daily schedule has its advantages, but a little variety out of your comfort zone is also good and can give you a much-needed break from your schedule.

If you feel you need to improve yourself with respect to a certain personality trait because it is affecting your daily activities and relationships, there are ways to do that.
Encouragement - Challenging oneself to try out new experiences can help improve openness to experience. Parents can encourage children to try out new things and think broadly.
Cognitive training - Research shows that cognitive training can increase openness to new experiences. Cognitive training involves a program of regular activities that can maintain or improve one’s cognitive ability.

Summary

  1. Openness is one of the Big Five personality traits. People with a higher tendency for openness are more curious and move out of their comfort zone easily. They usually have a broad range of interests, are open to learning about new things, and experimenting.
  2. People who are less open to new experiences usually avoid change, prefer familiar experiences, and have a narrow range of interests.
  3. People with certain genetic types have a higher likelihood of being open to new experiences. Individuals with the G allele of SNP rs644148 found in the ZNF180 gene and SNP rs6610953 found in the FUNDC1 gene are more open to new experiences.
  4. Age, location, and environmental factors are certain non-genetic factors that influence this personality trait.
  5. There is no good or bad personality trait. You can try to improve if you feel like it is affecting your relationships and day-to-day activities. Encouragement to try out new things and cognitive training and help increase openness.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4482250/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874623/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openness
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openness_to_experience
https://www.healthline.com/health/big-five-personality-traits#agreeableness

About Xcode Life's Traits and Personality Report

Extraversion: An Introduction

Extraversion is one of the big 5 personality traits that are considered the core or center of human behavior. Extraversion or extroversion is a behavior that makes a person outgoing, social, and fun to be around. People who are the life of parties and easily make friends wherever they go are considered extroverts.

An extrovert feels happy and gets more energetic around other people. The opposite of extroverts are introverts who prefer to be on their own and avoid company if they can.

Extroversion and introversion are two extreme ends of a graph. People are not complete extroverts or introverts. They are spread out all through the graph. Depending on which side of the graph they lean towards, they are categorized as extroverted or introverted.

Why Are Some People Extroverts and Others Aren’t?

Hans Eysenck was a very popular psychologist who researched deeply on personality traits, especially extraversion and introversion. According to him, changes in the brain pathway make a person an extrovert or an introvert.

He mentions that extroverts have lowered ability to respond to stimulation when compared to introverts. Extroverts needed more stimulation to get excited while introverts get stimulated easily, and hence they had to look for this ‘extra stimulation’ outside from people around. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8421248/)

Another study concluded that people who are extroverts are motivated by social stimuli (a social event, agent, or situation that requires a response from the individual) and genuinely enjoy them, while others are overstimulated by the same level of social stimuli and try and avoid them. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3129862/)

Importance of Extraversion

Genetics And Its Effects On Extraversion

The ZNF180 Gene

The ZNF180 gene (Zinc Finger Protein 180 gene) is responsible for zinc coordination in the body. Changes in this gene are known to increase/decrease the rate of extraversion.

*rs644148 *
rs644148 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the ZNF180 gene. The G allele of the SNP rs644148 of this gene is associated with an extraverted behavior when compared to the T allele.

The CDH13 Gene

The CDH13 gene (Cadherin 13 gene) helps with communication between cells and is a major gene that affects a host of mental health conditions like ADHD and bipolar disorder. Changes in this gene are also associated with changes in personality traits, including extraversion.

*rs8056579 *
rs8056579 is an SNP in the CDH13 gene. The G allele of this SNP increases extraversion behavior when compared to the A allele .

Non-Genetic Influences Affecting Extraversion

Gender

Women score slightly higher than men when it comes to extraversion. This could be because women handle factors relating to being an extrovert like warmth, a positive outlook, and gregariousness (a love for companionship) better than men.

Age

The level of extraversion seems to decrease with age. A particular study analyzed extraversion in people of different age groups with a sample size of around 14,000 British individuals aged between 16 and 81. The study concluded that extraversion was seen the highest in people aged 16-21 and slowly decreased as individuals got older.

Growing Up With Siblings

A small study analyzed the effects of being a single child vs. having siblings on the big five personality traits. The sample size of the study was 60, and Indian adolescents aged 13-18 were considered samples.

According to the study, people who grow up with siblings showed higher levels of extraversion when compared to single children.

Culture and Geographical Location

A large inter-geographical study done across 56 nations tried to understand the cultural and geographical differences in the Big Five Personality traits.

According to the results, the level of extraversion was very low in East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and South America when compared to other regions. Oceania, North America, and Europe scored high in the levels of extraversion in their people.

Characteristics Of People With High and Low Levels Of Extraversion

Characteristics of High Extraversion

Characteristics of low extraversion (introversion)

Recommendations To Manage Levels of Extraversion

Learn to Listen

A potential problem with high levels of extraversion is that people love talking and hence end up listening lesser. This can cause problems with social and personal relationships. You can make extraversion your strength if you learn to listen more and engage in active communication.

Take Time To Make Decisions

[Many studies indicate that extroverts make more spur-of-the-moment decisions without worrying about the outcomes when compared to introverts](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886920300301. This can lead to bad decisions affecting their quality of life. Start by analyzing the good and bad of a decision and consider the possible outcomes before you make decisions. Such well-thought-out decisions are called utilitarian decisions and are advantageous for extroverts.

Be Aware of Distractions

Distractions are very common with extroverts and can prevent them from doing a job well. Be aware that as an extrovert, you are more prone to distractions and find ways to manage this. Here are few strategies that can help:
- Create a routine and follow it
- Reduce social interaction if you think that distracts you
- Keep a ‘to-do list’ for everyday tasks based on the priority
- Have a couple of ‘no social’ days to internally reflect and finish your backlogs

Summary

  1. Extraversion is one of the Big 5 Personality Traits and makes a person outgoing, social, and fun to be around.
  2. Extroverts are considered more positive and recharge themselves in the company of others. Extroverts get very lonely when left alone.
  3. Changes in theZNF180 gene play a role in higher extraversion. Other genes that influence extraversion include, DAPK1, CDH13, and CDH23.
  4. Women are considered to have slightly higher levels of extraversion than men. Similarly, younger people are better extroverts than older individuals.
  5. Some studies show that people of certain cultures and geographical locations exhibit higher levels of extraversion.
  6. People who are extroverts can use the behavior to their benefit by learning to listen, practicing to make utilitarian decisions, and being aware of distractions around them.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraversion_and_introversion
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20130717-what-makes-someone-an-extrovert
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886920304803
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886920300301
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326142950_When_and_why_is_extraversion_associated_with_social_popularity

What is Agreeableness

Agreeableness is one of the five major personality traits that are associated with human behavior. Agreeableness is the ability of a person to be harmonious (agreeable) with the people around. People who are agreeable are often seen to be warm, kind, and pleasant to interact with.

Agreeableness improves interpersonal relationships and results in a satisfactory life.

Agreeableness is a superordinate trait. It means that there are a lot of sub-traits that are grouped under this major trait. Below is a list of 6 sub-traits that form a part of agreeableness.
- Trust
- Altruism
- Straightforwardness
- Modesty
- Compliance
- Tender-mindedness

Importance of Agreeableness

Agreeableness reflects the individual's tendency to develop and maintain prosocial relationships. Individuals high in this trait are more trustworthy, straightforward, altruistic, compliant, modest, and tender-minded.

Agreeableness also affects other personality traits.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability of a person to feel other people’s emotions. Agreeableness is positively associated with empathy. Studies conclude that people who show high agreeableness are able to be more empathetic too.

Altruism

Altruism is a behavior where people put other’s happiness forefront and derive joy out of it. Altruism is a very important trait needed for the upliftment of the community and is also positively associated with agreeable people.

Trust

Trust is the ability to depend, believe, or confide in another person. Being agreeable makes it easy for a person to trust people around.

Everyday Satisfaction and Relationship Satisfaction

The results of three individual studies were analyzed, and the effects of agreeableness on interpersonal relationships and satisfaction were studied.

All studies concluded that agreeableness was positively related to everyday satisfaction and relationship satisfaction.

Cooperation

People who are agreeable try their best to avoid confrontation and hence prefer cooperation over-aggression or anger.

Modesty

People who are more agreeable show higher levels of modesty.

Lowered levels of agreeableness are also associated with an increased risk of mortality.

Another 2003 study concluded that people with lowered levels of agreeability were at an increased risk for developing a love for unhealthy food habits and an increased risk for physical health conditions like obesity.

The Influence Of Genetics On Agreeableness

The CLOCK Gene

The CLOCK gene (Circadian Locomotor Output Cycles Kaput gene) helps control the body’s internal clock and regulates sleeping and waking up times.
Since the sleep cycle is very important in regulating metabolism and other psychological functions in the body, it also plays a role in changing people’s behaviors.

rs6832769
rs6832769 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the CLOCK gene. The major A allele of this SNP is associated with less agreeability behavior than the minor G allele.

The CNR1 Gene

The CNR1 gene (Cannabinoid Receptor type 1 gene) helps produce the cannabinoid receptor in the body. These receptors are active in the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) in the body. These receptors play a role in the emotional state of a person and also alter their behavior.

rs806366
rs806366 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the CNR1 gene.
The major C allele of this SNP is associated with higher levels of agreeableness when compared to the minor T allele.

Non-Genetic Influences Affecting Levels of Agreeableness

Gender

Women score higher in levels of agreeableness than men and show traits like warmth and tender mindedness.

Age

A study analyzed the changes in the Big Five personality traits with age. The study considered the results of two national samples and concluded that the levels of agreeability increased steadily with age. Older people showed higher levels of agreeability when compared to younger individuals.

Parenting Style

The parenting style a child is exposed to during the initial years makes a difference in the big five personality traits developed as an adult. Children who experience positive parenting grow up to become agreeable adults. Children who are exposed to an angry parenting style, especially from their mothers, grow with less agreeability and more neuroticism.

Characteristics of People With High Agreeability

Characteristics of People With Low Agreeability

Achieving the Right Level Of Agreeableness

Getting Your People-Pleasing Nature Under Control

People who are very agreeable try hard at pleasing others around. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology asked a group of 104 people to interact and play a game together. The study concluded that members were not very happy with people who are very agreeable and tried to push them out of the group.

The Pollyanna Myth

Pollyanna Myth is a tendency where people remember positive things better and more accurately than negative things. The results of four individual studies show that people who are more agreeable go through extremes of the Pollyanna Myth.

This means they judge prosocial behaviors very positively, but they judge antisocial behaviors with extreme negativity. This makes them unfairly judgemental to those who are not perfect.

Avoid Falling Into Group Thinking

Studies suggest that people who are very agreeable tend to become group-thinkers. These individuals cannot make their own unique decisions in a group and may not become effective leaders.

If you are very agreeable, be a part of smaller groups where you are not coerced into making a decision that the group agrees to. Smaller groups work better for people with high levels of agreeableness and encourage them to take independent decisions more confidently.

Summary

  1. Agreeableness is a very important human trait that increases a person's ability to be harmonious with people around.
  2. Agreeableness has six sub-traits: trust, altruism, straightforwardness, modesty, compliance, and tender-mindedness.
  3. Agreeableness affects a lot of other behavioral traits, including empathy, relationship satisfaction, and modesty.
  4. The level of agreeableness is influenced in part by genetics. Changes in CLOCK and CNR1 play a role in increasing/ decreasing one's agreeableness.
  5. Other factors influencing agreeableness include gender, age, and parenting practices.
  6. Both low and high levels of agreeableness can be problematic. Highly agreeable people fall into group thinking and may not be able to make their own decisions.
  7. Getting your people-pleasing nature under control and knowing when to say no to people can help achieve the right level of agreeableness.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2730208/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/agreeableness
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3845351/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2730208/

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