SCIENCE
12/15/2014 08:42 am ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

How Being An Extrovert May Give Your Immune System A Boost

Sure, you've probably heard that your personality is linked to many things -- from your sleep schedule even to your longevity. And now, researchers say your personality may even play a role in your ability to ward off infection.

According to a new study, key personality traits--like being extroverted and conscientious--are intimately connected to the strength of your immune system.

For the study, an ethnically diverse group of 121 healthy men and women was asked to complete a personality test to determine whether they were "extroverts" or "introverts," and how conscientious they were.

The subjects also provided researchers with blood samples so that two groups of genes that regulate the immune system could be examined: one involving the body's pro-inflammatory immune response, and another involving antiviral responses and antibodies.

What did the researchers find?

The "extroverts" in the group were significantly associated with an increase in the expression of the genes that regulate the body's pro-inflammatory response, while "conscientiousness" was linked to a reduced expression of those genes -- so the "extroverts" appeared to have immune systems that seemed better able to respond to infection.

"In other words, individuals who we would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their socially orientated nature (i.e., extroverts) appear to have immune systems that we would expect can deal effectively with infection. While individuals who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well," Dr. Kavita Vedhara, a health psychologist at The University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine in England, said in a written statement. "We can’t, however, say which came first. Is this our biology determining our psychology or our psychology determining our biology?”

This new study was published online in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology on November 11, 2014.

What else does your personality say about you? Check out the "Talk Nerdy To Me" video below to find out.

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