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Are there psychological traits that predict that a person will be good at acting?

Are there psychological traits that predict that a person will be good at acting?


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I'd like to know if there are psychological traits that predict that a person will be good at acting. And, if psychology can say something about this , which aspects of acting can mostly be taught and which one are hard to be (being dependent mostly some sort of 'natural aptitude').


About the expert: Joel Dvoskin, PhD

Joel Dvoskin, PhD, has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over 30 years. He earned his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Arizona in 1981 and he holds a diploma from the American Board of Professional Psychology in Forensic Science. He is an expert in the field of forensic psychology and has been asked to contribute to a wide variety of projects and boards throughout academia and public service. Most notably, he has served on the White House Panel on the Future of African-American Males, the American Bar Association Task Force on Capital Punishment and Mental Disability and the Research Advisory Board for the United States Secret Service.

Dvoskin served as president of APA Div. 18 (Psychologists in Public Service) and Div. 41 (American Psychology – Law Society). He has served as the acting commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health and is currently the chair of the Nevada Governor's Advisory Council on Behavioral Health and Wellness . Dvoskin has served as a monitor of federal court settlements overseeing prisons, jails and psychiatric hospitals.

In addition to his career as a consultant, Dvoskin is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. His many honors include the Peggy Richardson Award from the National Coalition for the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Justice System, the Amicus Award from the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, the Special Achievement Award from APA Div. 18 and the Distinguished Contribution to the Sciences of Psychology Award from the Arizona Psychological Association.


Introduction

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). It aims at promoting psychological research and practice in areas such as morally positively valued traits (character strengths), positive emotions, and positive institutions and their contribution to well-being. Another core topic of positive psychology is the development of so-called positive psychology interventions (PPIs i.e., “[…] treatment methods or intentional activities that aim to cultivate positive feelings, behaviors, or cognitions" Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009, p. 468). Recent meta-analyses by Sin and Lyubomirsky (2009) and Bolier et al. (2013) found support for the notion that they are effective in enhancing happiness and ameliorating depressive symptoms.

One specific variant of PPIs are interventions, which focus on humor. Previous research provides support for the notion that they can enhance well-being in the general population (e.g., McGhee, 2010b Crawford and Caltabiano, 2011 Gander et al., 2013 Proyer et al., 2014 Wellenzohn et al., 2016b for an overview see Ruch and McGhee, 2014 Ruch and Hofmann, 2017), but also in clinical samples [e.g., Hirsch et al., 2010 Falkenberg et al., 2011 Konradt et al., 2013 see also Berger et al. (2017)]. There are group-administered training programs for humor that were found to be effective for enhancing emotional well-being, life satisfaction, psychological well-being, subjective health, positive mood, optimism, and lowering depression, feelings of stress or suicidal tendencies (e.g., Papousek and Schulter, 2008 Hirsch et al., 2010 Crawford and Caltabiano, 2011 Falkenberg et al., 2011 Ruch et al., 2018b Tagalidou et al., 2018, Tagalidou et al., in press for an overview see McGhee, 2010a,b). Thus, humor-based PPIs are expected to be well-received by the participants and enable a higher commitment to continue practicing and incorporating the activities into daily life. It has been shown that humor induces amusement (Ruch, 2001, 2008, 2009 Auerbach et al., 2016), an important facet of positive emotions (the one that most frequently goes along with laughter Platt et al., 2013). Given that the elicitation of positive emotions is one of the proposed working mechanisms of PPIs (Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009), humor seems to be particularly well-suited for incorporation in PPIs. Furthermore, Wellenzohn et al. (2016a) found support for savoring positive emotions serving as a working mechanism in humor-based PPIs.

While evidence for the effectiveness of PPIs is steadily growing, only little knowledge exists on whether (and how) certain personality traits moderate these effects. This is especially of interest from an applied perspective since the person × intervention fit (i.e., the degree to which an intervention matches an individual’s preferences and personality) is associated with an intervention’s effectiveness (e.g., Schueller, 2010, 2012, 2014 Proyer et al., 2015). We report two studies that are aimed at narrowing this gap in the literature by testing the impact of basic personality traits and sense of humor as defined by McGhee (1999, 2010a) as moderators in humor-based PPIs.

Humor-Based Online Positive Psychology Interventions

Seligman et al. (2005) published the first large-scale online placebo-controlled PPI study. They report findings for three self-administered online PPIs that are effective for up to 6 months in ameliorating depressive symptoms and enhancing happiness in comparison with a placebo control condition: The gratitude visit- (i.e., writing and delivering a gratitude letter to a person who has not been thanked so far), three good things- (i.e., writing down three good things that happened during the day), and using signature strengths in a new way-intervention (i.e., participants complete a character strengths inventory and receive feedback on their five highest strengths and the instruction to apply these strengths in a new way). An advantage of these online programs is that they are more cost effective than programs in group- or individual-settings as they are scalable (i.e., they can be easily distributed and made accessible to a large number of interested users) and can be self-administered using standardized written instructions both are typically associated with low expenses for the researcher applying and supervising these programs in practice. There is also initial experience with humor-based online interventions. For example, Gander et al. (2013) adapted the three good things-intervention to a three-funny things-intervention by changing the instruction to include humor as its core component—instead of writing down three good things that happened to the person during the day, participants were asked to write down three funny things that happened to them during the day. The authors found the intervention to be effective in enhancing happiness for up to 3 months and ameliorating depressive symptoms up to 6 months after the intervention-week compared to a placebo control condition. Similar effects were recently found for a sample of people aged 50� years (Proyer et al., 2014).

A third study by Wellenzohn et al. (2016b) replicated the findings for the three funny things-intervention and adapted four other well-established PPIs into 1-week humor-based PPIs (see Wellenzohn et al., 2016b for a more detailed description of the interventions) namely, (a) the gratitude visit- (Seligman et al., 2005) was adapted into the collecting funny things-intervention (i.e., remembering the funniest things ever experienced and writing them down in as much detail as possible) (b) the counting kindness- (Otake et al., 2006) into the counting funny things-intervention (i.e., counting all funny things that happen during the day and note the total number) (c) the using your signature strengths in a new way- (Seligman et al., 2005) into the applying humor-intervention (i.e., noticing the humorous experiences during the day and add humorous activities) and (d) the one door closes and another door opens- (Rashid and Anjum, 2008) into the solving stressful situations in a humorous way-intervention (i.e., thinking about a stressful experience and how it could have been solved in a humorous way). These newly adapted interventions (self-administered over 1 week) were then tested in an online-setting by comparing their long-term effectiveness with a placebo control condition (early childhood memories as in Seligman et al., 2005). As in earlier studies, the three funny things-intervention was effective in increasing well-being, but there were no effects for depression. Furthermore, two out of the four newly adapted humor-based PPIs enhanced happiness (counting funny things- and applying humor-) and two were effective in ameliorating depressive symptoms (applying humor- and solving stressful situations in a humorous way-intervention) for up to 6 months. Hence, three out of the five tested interventions were effective in enhancing well-being and ameliorating depression and more research in this area seems warranted.

Who Benefits Most From a Humor-Based Positive Psychology Intervention?

Thus far, only few studies have directly examined the influence of individual difference variables in PPIs, and the findings are mixed. Senf and Liau (2013) showed that higher levels in extraversion and openness contribute to greater increases in happiness after a gratitude-based intervention. Greater extraversion was also associated with a stronger reduction in depressive symptoms following a gratitude- and a strengths-based intervention. Schueller (2012) also found that extraverted participants benefit more from a gratitude-intervention, as well as from a savoring-intervention. However, contrary to the findings by Senf and Liau (2013), Schueller found stronger benefits for introverts from a strengths-based-intervention. Furthermore, he also found introverts to benefit more from an active-constructive responding- and a three good things-intervention. Extraversion seems to play an important role for the effectiveness of interventions (e.g., when having to interact with others or share experiences with others), this could also be expected by extensive literature that supports robust positive associations of extraversion with well-being (e.g., Pavot et al., 1990 Oerlemans and Bakker, 2014). Ng (2015) tested the role of neuroticism in a gratitude/kindness-intervention and found that participants with low levels in neuroticism demonstrated greater increases in happiness. However, a recent study using a randomized, group-based-design for interventions targeting the components of Seligman’s (2002) Authentic Happiness Theory (i.e., the pleasurable, engaged, and meaningful life) has found no moderating effect of personality in the sense of the big five personality traits (Proyer et al., 2016). In the same line, Wang et al. (2017) did not find any moderating effects of personality for a well-being intervention in adolescents (only for the control phase). Hence, several studies suggest that individual difference variables moderate the effectiveness of some PPIs and encourage further research into the person × intervention fit as there seem to be intervention-specific differences in how far personality variables may have an impact. Thus far, no study has tested moderating effects of individual differences variables in humor-based interventions. Based on the existing literature, we expect humor-based PPIs to work better for those higher in extraversion. This hypothesis also receives support from correlational studies showing a positive relation between measures of humor and extraversion (e.g., Köhler and Ruch, 1996).

In addition to basic personality traits, sense of humor might be an important moderating variable for humor-based interventions. There are numerous conceptualizations of the sense of humor (for an overview see Ruch, 2007, 2008). McGhee (1999) provides a multi-faceted model that is based on six hierarchically ordered humor-skills or -habits (i.e., enjoyment of humor, laughter, verbal humor, humor in everyday life, laughing at oneself and finding humor under stress). He argues that these humor-skills are malleable in order to increase ones sense of humor (McGhee, 2010a,b). McGhee defines sense of humor as an ability to cope with stressful situations in daily life. He sees playfulness as its basis and argues that humor is a variant of play, namely the play with ideas (for an overview see Ruch and Heintz, 2018). A playful attitude can be seen as a facilitating frame of mind for establishing humor and for successfully processing humorous stimuli along with positive mood. McGhee’s (1999) framework seems best-suited for a further exploration in PPI studies as he also developed a measure specifically for usage in intervention studies (i.e., the Sense of Humor Scale McGhee, 2010a). We aim to test Wellenzohn et al.’s (2016b) hypothesis on the moderating role of the sense of humor in humor-based PPIs and its potential in predicting long-term changes in happiness and depressive symptoms.

The Present Studies

Our main aim is to examine the moderating effects of personality and the sense of humor on the effectiveness of humor-based interventions in a set of two studies. In Study 1, we test basic personality traits (i.e., the superfactors of personality psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism in Eysenck’s personality model see e.g., Eysenck and Eysenck, 1985) as moderators for the effectiveness of the three funny things-intervention (re-analyzing data from the study by Gander et al., 2013). Based on the existing literature, we expect humor-based PPIs to be more effective for people low in neuroticism and high in extraversion. In Study 2, we examine sense of humor as conceptualized by McGhee (2010a) as a moderator in the three funny things-intervention as well as in four further humor-based PPIs (re-analyzing data from the study by Wellenzohn et al., 2016b). Furthermore, we test (a) whether changes in sense of humor from pretest to the 1-month follow-up can predict long-term changes in happiness and depressive symptoms, and (b) whether changes in sense of humor and its sub-components differ in their ability to predict changes in happiness and depressive symptoms. Both studies are placebo-controlled online intervention-studies with happiness and depressive symptoms assessed at pre- and posttest as well as at 1, 3, and 6 months follow-ups.

Those with a higher sense of humor (according to McGhee’s conceptualization McGhee, 2010a) are more often exposed to humorous situations and thus, might come up with funny things to write down more easily (the core of the three funny things-intervention), to remember (as in the collecting funny things-intervention), or also noticing funny things during the day more easily (as in the counting funny things-intervention). Moreover, those with high scores in sense of humor might also find it easier to come up with ideas on how and where to apply humor in a new way (as in the applying humor-intervention), or be more creative in solving stressful situations in a humorous way. Thus, we expect those with higher levels in sense of humor to benefit more from humor-based PPIs. Furthermore, as the sense of humor might be a trigger of positive emotions, we expect early changes in sense of humor and its sub-components to predict upward changes in happiness and amelioration of depression.


10 Personality Characteristics That Make Great Actors

This is probably a question that will intrigue a lot of people. What is it about certain people who make them great performers? Or at least have the potential to be a great performer. I know this question intrigues many of you, so I did some reading to investigate what qualities/personality types really translate into great performers.

Charisma: This is one of those real surface qualities that you would expect. Obviously a performer is going to be charming, expressive, and charismatic, right? They’re those real life-of-the-party type personalities that you aren’t surprised to hear they’re actors as well. This is because performing on stage, or on camera, requires a certain amount of expressive energy, so those individuals with high-octanes of energy and the ability to translate that energy on-screen should go without saying. While not every actor is going to be the most charismatic personality type in their actual life, having a natural charisma to you will always benefit and help you with your performing endeavours.

Hard Work & Commitment: This is another trait that should go without saying. Lazy people usually don’t make great actors — unless they’re so naturally talented and it comes easy to them. This is the case because acting is such a self-starter business and is going to require so much self-motivation, as well as endless amounts of your personal time in order to be successful. Also, with every job you get, you’re going to have to generously research for your role/character, as well as put in hours and hours of rehearsal time. Then once you start working on the job, the days are long and you’ll be drained at the end of them. If you don’t have the type of personality that is ready to grind and endure hard work, you will go nowhere. Commitment is also a huge one. You will have to commit your life to developing your craft, as well as bringing 100% percent of yourself to each role you play. Acting requires you to be present in the moment at every turn, which can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. People that can whole-heatedly commit themselves to something, even going overboard and becoming obsessive with their commitment, are the ones who will be successful as actors. (Just look at some of the greatest method actors in the business, as well as the great extremes that the best actors will go to in order to prepare for roles: weight loss, muscle-building, extensive research and character development, real-life situational training).

Confidence: This personality trait is another common one. It will help in a lot of areas in your performance career, particularly in the early stages of auditioning, as well as warding off criticism and rejection when times get tough. Understanding who you are as a person and being confident in who that is will serve you well in the business. You will be required to expose many facets of yourself (emotional, mental, and even sometimes physical) in front of people, so being confident in yourself and being able to surge into those vulnerable places without shriveling into a ball of anxiety is a huge component of an actor’s makeup. Thankfully confidence is something that can be improved on. The better you get at your craft, the more confident you’re going to get in your abilities and the less self-conscious you will be. They famously say, “tension is blocked talent”, and often anxiety and nerves will come from a lack of self-confidence and dread that you’re going to be horrible. Those nerves will lessen with practice and working on your craft, eventually leading to performances that come across brilliantly, with absolute ease. So finding a way to be confident in your self, as well as your skills as an actor is absolutely paramount.

Intelligence: If you listen to actors in interviews, you’re often blow away by how articulate and well spoken they are. They are smart and educated most of the time. But a good majority of actors out there are college drop-outs, that never even went to college, and a chunk of them never even finished high school. How come they seem so smart then? Well it’s for a couple of reasons. Firstly, their job requires them to do a ridiculous amount of reading and research on a wide-variety of topics that become school projects in their own way. So they’re well read and well schooled on important issues happening in the world because it often relates to the work they’re doing. Secondly, they’re actually really smart people. You have to be very smart to be a good actor. But often it’s the type of smart that doesn’t excel within confined institutions like high school and university or college. It’s the type of intelligence that you could define as emotional intelligence, self-awareness, or a real adept understanding and insight into human behaviour and what drives people. That’s because actors are constantly asking themselves these questions: what drives this character? What are their needs? What are their desires? Why do they act this way? It’s a constant evaluating and breaking down of the human psyche, which requires a large degree of intelligence. It’s just a very real-life understanding of human behaviour. So if you don’t find people fascinating, to the point that people watching is one of your favourite past-times and you’re feverously curious about all types of people, then the acting process may not be for you.

Highly Imaginative: This is obviously one of the biggest and most important traits that make great actors. Sure there is a large component of acting that will require you to take emotion and realities from your own life into your acting world, but you won’t always have those resources at your disposal. Sometimes you have to completely plant yourself in alternate realities that encompass absolutely nothing from the world you know. This is where your imagination will take over. Most actors have wild and vivid imaginations, and have a real fostered connection with their imaginations. We basically are trained to grow out of our imaginations as we grow up, which is why most actors are adult-children — never really leaving the psyche of that 10-year-old boy inside of them who would dress up as superheroes and saw the world as full of infinite possibilities. It’s crucial that actors are constantly finding ways to improve and get more in touch with their imaginations, as it’s a huge tool in your career. From the early stages of developing your character, as well as planting yourself in an authentic reality when you have several cameras, crew, and a very artificial world surrounding you on set. Harness the connection to your imagination and work on improving it whenever possible. It’s one of the useful tools for great performances.

Understanding of Human Behaviour: This section relates directly with intelligence, as this is where the actor’s intelligence will shine. The best actors have an exceptional understanding of human behaviour – what people want and need, universally, on the deepest level. This is what every single role they tackle will require from them — the ability to dig deep into the psyche behind their character and figure out their motives, which will determine their behaviour. They have the ability to read between the lines of scripts and offer their own insight into the world of their character and bring assets to the script that weren’t there before. This understanding of human behaviour, I believe, is something that the best actors will have naturally, but it’s also something they strengthen by continuous exercise. Every actor should have a completely engrossed interest in people and the way the act. The job of an actor is to emulate people who aren’t themselves, so it should go without saying that they love to observe people and watch what they do, and then try to figure out why they do the things they do.

Energy, Energy, Energy: When you take an acting class, the beginning of the class is often dedicated to exercising the body — both physically with movement and vocally through voice exercises. These exercises are designed to center the energy in your body and for you to be fully aware of where all the energy in your body is being stored. Yes, actors are required to exert a lot of energy, thus it’s beneficial if they’re naturally energetic people. But that energy will be chaotic and counter-productive for a good performance if it’s not used in the correct way. The best actors are exceptional at dispensing and controlling their energy. They know when to release bursts of energy, as well as when to bottle the energy up because their character is holding something back on the surface, but on the inside they’re exploding. So it’s so important that actors know how to move the energy in their body around to help guide and emphasis their performance. Also, it’s important to note that not all energy is going to be emotionally expressive. They’re forms of energy that are not emotional, and it’s important that actors have a handle on all energy types.

Introspective & Constantly Learning: One of the most important relationships an actor will ever have is the one they have with their self. It’s essential that actors are constantly learning about themselves and trying to understand more about who they are as a person. They will also go to great lengths to improve who they are as a person and get more in touch with their authentic self. This is necessary, as acting requires bringing a large amount of yourself to every character you play. You will to make the emotion in your performances feel authentic. If you don’t actually feel all the emotions and sensations that your character is going through, the camera or audience will pick up on it and it won’t be believable. The great actors are able to dig deep into themselves and pull out the good, bad, and ugly of who they are and put it on show for everyone to see. If you aren’t willing to live with that type of revelation and truth in front of audiences, then acting will be a tough job for you. You can’t be afraid, or unwilling to go to the dark and emotional places of yourself and become a great actor. Actors have to constantly be assessing themselves as people, trying to improve, as well as get closer to who they really are. Another way to get closer to this truth is by constant exercise through meditation, mentors, relaxation, visualization, and classes.

Eager to Explore: Most actors life out of a suitcase and are constantly on the road. A lot of them are feel best in the characters they portray. They’re whimsical spirits, with a yearning for a gypsy life. This obviously relates to the lifestyle of an actor — constantly going from project to project, place to place, changing where they’re working and whom they’re working with all the time. There’s absolutely no structure (unless you’re a regular on a show) and you’re constantly exploring, both a physical world and the emotional world you’re living in. It’s definitely important that an actor has a natural tendency to be drawn to this type of life, as opposed to a very structured and matter-of-fact world where most people live that work the 9-to-5 routine. Going deeper into it, acting is a constant exploration and is going to require a real commitment to a journey by the actor. You have to be prepared to take scenes in directions you weren’t expecting, or let things they’re feeling come across at unexpected moments. A lot of actors live within a very small bandwidth, but the best ones are completely free. They trust their instincts and enjoy the work the most when it turns out different from first expected. So the exploring nature of an actor is going to be both, tangible and intangible. This is must in the makeup of an actor!

Interest in Psychology and Humanity: This is not to say that a psychologist would make a great actor, or that an actor would make a great psychologist. But having an interest in the subject will go a long way in improving your performance. Again, understanding the psychology of humans and what drives people is essential in the acting discovery. So those people who are very intuitive and able to quickly conceptualize other’s behaviour and why they do certain things, is a natural skill that very good actors should possess. This also could be why you see so many actor humanitarians (also because they have so much money) but they have such a vested interest in humanity that they’re passionate about world issues, and really empathize with human suffering.

It’s not that you have to possess every single one of these qualities to be a good actor, but it just seems that in the makeup of actors, often you’ll see, at least some, of these qualities, interests, and personality types. While a lot of these qualities are essential to great performing, they can be improved. Great acting happens when both the inner and outer self are portrayed at the same time (sometimes conflicting one another). So get in touch with yourself, reach deep into your emotions, and continue to discover more about yourself and more about your character in the process.


Big Ideas Articles & More

Extraverts are happier, and so are the emotionally stable, personality researchers tell us. It also pays to be more open to new experiences, more agreeable, and more conscientious. What does that mean for the rest of us—the introverts, the neurotics, the disorganized?

You may recognize these personality dimensions as part of the Big Five, the traits that researchers are often referring to when they talk about personality. According to a 2008 review, the Big Five explain anywhere from 39 to 63 percent of the variation in well-being between people.

That’s enough to be discouraging, if you don’t fall into one of the “beneficial” categories. But don’t lose heart yet, the authors of a new study say. Each Big Five domain can be divided into two “aspects”—enthusiasm and assertiveness rather than simply “extraversion,” for example—and, it turns out, one of each pair is more predictive of well-being than the other.

In other words, rather than lumping ourselves (and others) into broad categories, we’d do better to understand these nuances and what they might mean for our pursuit of happiness.

In this study, researchers surveyed over 700 U.S. residents about their personality and their well-being. The personality questions (which you can answer for yourself) covered the ten aspects of the Big Five:

  • Extraversion includes enthusiasm (being friendly and sociable) and assertiveness (dominating social situations).
  • Neuroticism includes withdrawal (tending toward depression and anxiety) and volatility (tending toward anger).
  • Conscientiousness includes industriousness (being hard-working and self-disciplined) and orderliness (being organized and preferring routines).
  • Agreeableness includes compassion (being caring and empathic) and politeness (being respectful).
  • Openness to experience includes openness (being creative and appreciating beauty) and intellect (being curious and reflective).

For well-being, researchers didn’t simply ask participants how happy they were. Their questions reflected three scientific measurements of well-being, capturing different visions of the good life. They asked about everything from feeling positive and satisfied with life, to experiencing a sense of meaning and purpose, to having loving and warm relationships, to feeling autonomous and in control.

In the end, the results offered greater clarity about the link between personality and well-being. Extraverted participants were indeed happier—but drilling down deeper, they found it was the more enthusiastic ones who tended to report higher life satisfaction, more positive emotions, and better relationships. More assertive participants didn’t report these happy outcomes.

Similarly, neurotics fared poorly in terms of well-being—but some of them more than others. More withdrawn individuals reported lower life satisfaction, less positive and more negative emotions, less self-acceptance, and a reduced sense of control over their environment. More volatile people didn’t show this pattern.

While enthusiasm and withdrawal were the strongest positive and negative predictors of well-being, the researchers found other links, as well. More conscientious and agreeable participants were better off, but solely thanks to the traits of industriousness and compassion. Being orderly or polite didn’t seem to make a difference in people’s happiness.

Meanwhile, both more intellectual and more open individuals had higher well-being, though the intellectuals tended to report more personal growth and a greater sense of autonomy.

In short, certain personalities and certain flavors of happiness seemed to go together—and, though these results don’t imply causation, they might inform how you go about pursuing happiness. For some, that might mean leveraging the personality traits you already have: channeling your intellect and open-mindedness to achieve the happiness of flow, engagement, and learning, for example. For others, that might mean deliberately cultivating certain personality traits (it’s possible!) that will help you achieve the type of happiness you want: for instance, practicing compassion and enthusiasm to strengthen your relationships.


'The Four Tendencies': Which personality type are you?

Researchers at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, in Illinois, examined data from 1.5 million participants who answered questionnaires about the "big five" personality traits. These five traits are commonly accepted to be major indicators of personality. As they looked at the data it appeared that people clustered around four different areas, and those emerged as the different personalities.

“The findings suggest there are types,” Luis Amaral, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering and an author of the paper told TODAY. “These (types) are sort of more of an attractor for these personality traits.”


Childhood personality traits predict adult behavior: We remain recognizably the same person, study suggests

Personality traits observed in childhood are a strong predictor of adult behavior, a study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, the Oregon Research Institute and University of Oregon suggests.

The study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, a quarterly publication of the Association for Research in Personality, the European Association of Social Psychology, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and co-sponsored by the Asian Association of Social Psychology and the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists.

Using data from a 1960s study of approximately 2,400 ethnically diverse elementary schoolchildren in Hawaii, researchers compared teacher personality ratings of the students with videotaped interviews of 144 of those individuals 40 years later.

What they discovered was surprising, said Christopher S. Nave, a doctoral candidate at UC Riverside and lead author of the paper, "On the Contextual Independence of Personality: Teachers' Assessments Predict Directly Observed Behavior After Four Decades." Co-authors of the paper are Ryne A. Sherman, a UCR doctoral candidate David C. Funder, UCR professor of psychology Sarah E. Hampson, a researcher at the Oregon Research Institute and Lewis R. Goldberg, professor of psychology emeritus at the University of Oregon. The research was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging through a grant to the Oregon Research Institute.

"We remain recognizably the same person," Nave said. "This speaks to the importance of understanding personality because it does follow us wherever we go across time and contexts."

The researchers examined four personality attributes -- verbally fluent, adaptable, impulsive and self-minimizing. They found that:

&bull Youngsters identified as verbally fluent -- defined as unrestrained talkativeness -- tended, as middle-aged adults, to display interest in intellectual matters, speak fluently, try to control the situation, and exhibit a high degree of intelligence. Children rated low in verbal fluency by their teachers were observed as adults to seek advice, give up when faced with obstacles, and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style.

&bull Children rated as highly adaptable -- defined as coping easily and successfully with new situations -- tended, as middle-aged adults, to behave cheerfully, speak fluently and show interest in intellectual matters. Those who rated low in adaptability as children were observed as adults to say negative things about themselves, seek advice and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style.

&bull Students rated as impulsive as adults were inclined to speak loudly, display a wide range of interests and be talkative. Those who were rated low on impulsivity were observed, as adults, to be fearful or timid, keep others at a distance and express insecurity.

&bull Children whose teachers rated them as having a tendency to self-minimize -- defined as humble, minimizing their own importance or never showing off -- as adults were likely to express guilt, seek reassurance, say negative things about themselves and express insecurity. Those who were ranked low as self-minimizing were observed as adults to speak loudly, show interest in intellectual matters and exhibit condescending behavior.

"We think that personality resides within us," Nave said. "It's a part of us, a part of our biology. Life events still influence our behaviors, yet we must acknowledge the power of personality in understanding future behavior as well."

Further study will expand knowledge that "one's personality has important outcomes associated with it." In addition, future research will "help us understand how personality is related to behavior as well as examine the extent to which we may be able to change our personality."


About the expert: Joel Dvoskin, PhD

Joel Dvoskin, PhD, has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over 30 years. He earned his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Arizona in 1981 and he holds a diploma from the American Board of Professional Psychology in Forensic Science. He is an expert in the field of forensic psychology and has been asked to contribute to a wide variety of projects and boards throughout academia and public service. Most notably, he has served on the White House Panel on the Future of African-American Males, the American Bar Association Task Force on Capital Punishment and Mental Disability and the Research Advisory Board for the United States Secret Service.

Dvoskin served as president of APA Div. 18 (Psychologists in Public Service) and Div. 41 (American Psychology – Law Society). He has served as the acting commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health and is currently the chair of the Nevada Governor's Advisory Council on Behavioral Health and Wellness . Dvoskin has served as a monitor of federal court settlements overseeing prisons, jails and psychiatric hospitals.

In addition to his career as a consultant, Dvoskin is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. His many honors include the Peggy Richardson Award from the National Coalition for the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Justice System, the Amicus Award from the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, the Special Achievement Award from APA Div. 18 and the Distinguished Contribution to the Sciences of Psychology Award from the Arizona Psychological Association.


Introduction

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). It aims at promoting psychological research and practice in areas such as morally positively valued traits (character strengths), positive emotions, and positive institutions and their contribution to well-being. Another core topic of positive psychology is the development of so-called positive psychology interventions (PPIs i.e., “[…] treatment methods or intentional activities that aim to cultivate positive feelings, behaviors, or cognitions" Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009, p. 468). Recent meta-analyses by Sin and Lyubomirsky (2009) and Bolier et al. (2013) found support for the notion that they are effective in enhancing happiness and ameliorating depressive symptoms.

One specific variant of PPIs are interventions, which focus on humor. Previous research provides support for the notion that they can enhance well-being in the general population (e.g., McGhee, 2010b Crawford and Caltabiano, 2011 Gander et al., 2013 Proyer et al., 2014 Wellenzohn et al., 2016b for an overview see Ruch and McGhee, 2014 Ruch and Hofmann, 2017), but also in clinical samples [e.g., Hirsch et al., 2010 Falkenberg et al., 2011 Konradt et al., 2013 see also Berger et al. (2017)]. There are group-administered training programs for humor that were found to be effective for enhancing emotional well-being, life satisfaction, psychological well-being, subjective health, positive mood, optimism, and lowering depression, feelings of stress or suicidal tendencies (e.g., Papousek and Schulter, 2008 Hirsch et al., 2010 Crawford and Caltabiano, 2011 Falkenberg et al., 2011 Ruch et al., 2018b Tagalidou et al., 2018, Tagalidou et al., in press for an overview see McGhee, 2010a,b). Thus, humor-based PPIs are expected to be well-received by the participants and enable a higher commitment to continue practicing and incorporating the activities into daily life. It has been shown that humor induces amusement (Ruch, 2001, 2008, 2009 Auerbach et al., 2016), an important facet of positive emotions (the one that most frequently goes along with laughter Platt et al., 2013). Given that the elicitation of positive emotions is one of the proposed working mechanisms of PPIs (Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009), humor seems to be particularly well-suited for incorporation in PPIs. Furthermore, Wellenzohn et al. (2016a) found support for savoring positive emotions serving as a working mechanism in humor-based PPIs.

While evidence for the effectiveness of PPIs is steadily growing, only little knowledge exists on whether (and how) certain personality traits moderate these effects. This is especially of interest from an applied perspective since the person × intervention fit (i.e., the degree to which an intervention matches an individual’s preferences and personality) is associated with an intervention’s effectiveness (e.g., Schueller, 2010, 2012, 2014 Proyer et al., 2015). We report two studies that are aimed at narrowing this gap in the literature by testing the impact of basic personality traits and sense of humor as defined by McGhee (1999, 2010a) as moderators in humor-based PPIs.

Humor-Based Online Positive Psychology Interventions

Seligman et al. (2005) published the first large-scale online placebo-controlled PPI study. They report findings for three self-administered online PPIs that are effective for up to 6 months in ameliorating depressive symptoms and enhancing happiness in comparison with a placebo control condition: The gratitude visit- (i.e., writing and delivering a gratitude letter to a person who has not been thanked so far), three good things- (i.e., writing down three good things that happened during the day), and using signature strengths in a new way-intervention (i.e., participants complete a character strengths inventory and receive feedback on their five highest strengths and the instruction to apply these strengths in a new way). An advantage of these online programs is that they are more cost effective than programs in group- or individual-settings as they are scalable (i.e., they can be easily distributed and made accessible to a large number of interested users) and can be self-administered using standardized written instructions both are typically associated with low expenses for the researcher applying and supervising these programs in practice. There is also initial experience with humor-based online interventions. For example, Gander et al. (2013) adapted the three good things-intervention to a three-funny things-intervention by changing the instruction to include humor as its core component—instead of writing down three good things that happened to the person during the day, participants were asked to write down three funny things that happened to them during the day. The authors found the intervention to be effective in enhancing happiness for up to 3 months and ameliorating depressive symptoms up to 6 months after the intervention-week compared to a placebo control condition. Similar effects were recently found for a sample of people aged 50� years (Proyer et al., 2014).

A third study by Wellenzohn et al. (2016b) replicated the findings for the three funny things-intervention and adapted four other well-established PPIs into 1-week humor-based PPIs (see Wellenzohn et al., 2016b for a more detailed description of the interventions) namely, (a) the gratitude visit- (Seligman et al., 2005) was adapted into the collecting funny things-intervention (i.e., remembering the funniest things ever experienced and writing them down in as much detail as possible) (b) the counting kindness- (Otake et al., 2006) into the counting funny things-intervention (i.e., counting all funny things that happen during the day and note the total number) (c) the using your signature strengths in a new way- (Seligman et al., 2005) into the applying humor-intervention (i.e., noticing the humorous experiences during the day and add humorous activities) and (d) the one door closes and another door opens- (Rashid and Anjum, 2008) into the solving stressful situations in a humorous way-intervention (i.e., thinking about a stressful experience and how it could have been solved in a humorous way). These newly adapted interventions (self-administered over 1 week) were then tested in an online-setting by comparing their long-term effectiveness with a placebo control condition (early childhood memories as in Seligman et al., 2005). As in earlier studies, the three funny things-intervention was effective in increasing well-being, but there were no effects for depression. Furthermore, two out of the four newly adapted humor-based PPIs enhanced happiness (counting funny things- and applying humor-) and two were effective in ameliorating depressive symptoms (applying humor- and solving stressful situations in a humorous way-intervention) for up to 6 months. Hence, three out of the five tested interventions were effective in enhancing well-being and ameliorating depression and more research in this area seems warranted.

Who Benefits Most From a Humor-Based Positive Psychology Intervention?

Thus far, only few studies have directly examined the influence of individual difference variables in PPIs, and the findings are mixed. Senf and Liau (2013) showed that higher levels in extraversion and openness contribute to greater increases in happiness after a gratitude-based intervention. Greater extraversion was also associated with a stronger reduction in depressive symptoms following a gratitude- and a strengths-based intervention. Schueller (2012) also found that extraverted participants benefit more from a gratitude-intervention, as well as from a savoring-intervention. However, contrary to the findings by Senf and Liau (2013), Schueller found stronger benefits for introverts from a strengths-based-intervention. Furthermore, he also found introverts to benefit more from an active-constructive responding- and a three good things-intervention. Extraversion seems to play an important role for the effectiveness of interventions (e.g., when having to interact with others or share experiences with others), this could also be expected by extensive literature that supports robust positive associations of extraversion with well-being (e.g., Pavot et al., 1990 Oerlemans and Bakker, 2014). Ng (2015) tested the role of neuroticism in a gratitude/kindness-intervention and found that participants with low levels in neuroticism demonstrated greater increases in happiness. However, a recent study using a randomized, group-based-design for interventions targeting the components of Seligman’s (2002) Authentic Happiness Theory (i.e., the pleasurable, engaged, and meaningful life) has found no moderating effect of personality in the sense of the big five personality traits (Proyer et al., 2016). In the same line, Wang et al. (2017) did not find any moderating effects of personality for a well-being intervention in adolescents (only for the control phase). Hence, several studies suggest that individual difference variables moderate the effectiveness of some PPIs and encourage further research into the person × intervention fit as there seem to be intervention-specific differences in how far personality variables may have an impact. Thus far, no study has tested moderating effects of individual differences variables in humor-based interventions. Based on the existing literature, we expect humor-based PPIs to work better for those higher in extraversion. This hypothesis also receives support from correlational studies showing a positive relation between measures of humor and extraversion (e.g., Köhler and Ruch, 1996).

In addition to basic personality traits, sense of humor might be an important moderating variable for humor-based interventions. There are numerous conceptualizations of the sense of humor (for an overview see Ruch, 2007, 2008). McGhee (1999) provides a multi-faceted model that is based on six hierarchically ordered humor-skills or -habits (i.e., enjoyment of humor, laughter, verbal humor, humor in everyday life, laughing at oneself and finding humor under stress). He argues that these humor-skills are malleable in order to increase ones sense of humor (McGhee, 2010a,b). McGhee defines sense of humor as an ability to cope with stressful situations in daily life. He sees playfulness as its basis and argues that humor is a variant of play, namely the play with ideas (for an overview see Ruch and Heintz, 2018). A playful attitude can be seen as a facilitating frame of mind for establishing humor and for successfully processing humorous stimuli along with positive mood. McGhee’s (1999) framework seems best-suited for a further exploration in PPI studies as he also developed a measure specifically for usage in intervention studies (i.e., the Sense of Humor Scale McGhee, 2010a). We aim to test Wellenzohn et al.’s (2016b) hypothesis on the moderating role of the sense of humor in humor-based PPIs and its potential in predicting long-term changes in happiness and depressive symptoms.

The Present Studies

Our main aim is to examine the moderating effects of personality and the sense of humor on the effectiveness of humor-based interventions in a set of two studies. In Study 1, we test basic personality traits (i.e., the superfactors of personality psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism in Eysenck’s personality model see e.g., Eysenck and Eysenck, 1985) as moderators for the effectiveness of the three funny things-intervention (re-analyzing data from the study by Gander et al., 2013). Based on the existing literature, we expect humor-based PPIs to be more effective for people low in neuroticism and high in extraversion. In Study 2, we examine sense of humor as conceptualized by McGhee (2010a) as a moderator in the three funny things-intervention as well as in four further humor-based PPIs (re-analyzing data from the study by Wellenzohn et al., 2016b). Furthermore, we test (a) whether changes in sense of humor from pretest to the 1-month follow-up can predict long-term changes in happiness and depressive symptoms, and (b) whether changes in sense of humor and its sub-components differ in their ability to predict changes in happiness and depressive symptoms. Both studies are placebo-controlled online intervention-studies with happiness and depressive symptoms assessed at pre- and posttest as well as at 1, 3, and 6 months follow-ups.

Those with a higher sense of humor (according to McGhee’s conceptualization McGhee, 2010a) are more often exposed to humorous situations and thus, might come up with funny things to write down more easily (the core of the three funny things-intervention), to remember (as in the collecting funny things-intervention), or also noticing funny things during the day more easily (as in the counting funny things-intervention). Moreover, those with high scores in sense of humor might also find it easier to come up with ideas on how and where to apply humor in a new way (as in the applying humor-intervention), or be more creative in solving stressful situations in a humorous way. Thus, we expect those with higher levels in sense of humor to benefit more from humor-based PPIs. Furthermore, as the sense of humor might be a trigger of positive emotions, we expect early changes in sense of humor and its sub-components to predict upward changes in happiness and amelioration of depression.


The Big Five Personality Model

The Big Five (also called Five Factor) model of personality is the most widely accepted personality theory in the scientific community. Although it is not as well understood among laypeople as systems like Myers-Briggs personality typing, it is generally believed to be the most scientifically sound way of conceptualizing the differences between people.

The Big Five is so named because the model proposes that human personality can be measured along five major dimensions, each of which is distinct and independent from the others. The Big Five model is also sometimes called OCEAN or CANOE, both acronyms of the five traits.

In the Big Five model, people are understood to have varying levels of key personality factors which drive our thoughts and behavior. Although personality traits cannot specifically predict behavior, differences in the Big Five factors help us to understand why people may react differently, behave differently, and see things differently from others in the same situation.

The Big Five is a trait model of personality, rather than a type model. Most popular ways of describing personality talk about personality types, such as Type A or Type B personalities, or Myers & Briggs' INFPs and ESTJs. Although type models are easy to understand, they are not scientifically sound, as people don't neatly sort into categories. The Big Five describes people in terms of traits on a spectrum, and as such, is a much more valid and evidence-based means of understanding personality.

In the Big Five model, the five dimensions of personality are:

Openness

Not to be confused with one's tendency to be open and disclose their thoughts and feelings, Openness in the context of the Big Five refers more specifically to Openness to Experience, or openness to considering new ideas. This trait has also been called "Intellect" by some researchers, but this terminology has been largely abandoned because it implies that people high in Openness are more intelligent, which is not necessarily true.

Openness describes a person's tendency to think abstractly. Those who are high in Openness tend to be creative, adventurous, and intellectual. They enjoy playing with ideas and discovering novel experiences. Those who are low in Openness tend to be practical, traditional, and focused on the concrete. They tend to avoid the unknown and follow traditional ways.

In the brain, Openness seems to be related to the degree to which certain brain regions are interconnected. Those high in Openness seem to have more connection between disparate brain regions, which may explain why they are more likely to see connections where others do not.

Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness describes a person's level of goal orientation and persistence. Those who are high in Conscientiousness are organized and determined, and are able to forego immediate gratification for the sake of long-term achievement. Those who are low in this trait are impulsive and easily sidetracked.

In the brain, Conscientiousness is associated with frontal lobe activity. The frontal lobe can be thought of as the "executive brain," moderating and regulating the more animal and instinctual impulses from other areas of the brain. For example, while we might instinctually want to eat a piece of cake that's in front of us, the frontal lobe steps in and says "no, that's not healthy, and it doesn't fit in with our diet goals." People who are high in Conscientiousness are more likely to use this brain region to control their impulses and keep themselves on track.

Extraversion

Extraversion describes a person’s inclination to seek stimulation from the outside world, especially in the form of attention from other people. Extraverts engage actively with others to earn friendship, admiration, power, status, excitement, and romance. Introverts, on the other hand, conserve their energy, and do not work as hard to earn these social rewards.

In the brain, Extraversion seems to be related to dopamine activity. Dopamine can be thought of as the "reward" neurotransmitter, and is the main chemical associated with our instinct to pursue a goal. The classic example is a rat in a maze, whose brain pumps out dopamine as he frantically seeks the cheese. Extraverts tend to have more dopamine activity, indicating that they are more responsive to the potential for a reward. Introverts have less dopamine activity, and so are less likely to put themselves out to chase down rewards.

Agreeableness

Agreeableness describes the extent to which a person prioritizes the needs of others over their own needs. People who are high in Agreeableness experience a great deal of empathy and tend to get pleasure out of serving and taking care of others. People who are low in Agreeableness tend to experience less empathy and put their own concerns ahead of others.

In the brain, high Agreeableness has been associated with increased activity in the superior temporal gyrus, a region responsible for language processing and the recognition of emotions in others.

Neuroticism

Neuroticism describes a person's tendency to respond to stressors with negative emotions, including fear, sadness, anxiety, guilt, and shame.

This trait can be thought of as an alarm system. People experience negative emotions as a sign that something is wrong in the world. Fear is a response to danger, guilt a response to having done something wrong. However, not everyone has the same reaction to a given situation. High Neuroticism scorers are more likely to react to a situation with strong negative emotions. Low Neuroticism scorers are more likely to brush off their misfortune and move on.

In the brain, Neuroticism appears to relate to the interconnection of several regions, including regions involved in processing negative stimuli (such as angry faces or aggressive dogs) and dealing with negative emotions. One study found an association between high Neuroticism and altered serotonin processing in the brain.

How the Big Five Traits Describe Personality

Individuals are typically described in terms of having high, average, or low levels of the five personality factors. Each factor is independent from the others, so someone might be high in Extraversion and low in Agreeableness. To gain a full picture of an individual using the Big Five model, it's necessary to know how they measure up on each of the five dimensions. You can measure your own levels of the Big Five personality traits with a Big Five personality test.

History of the Big Five

The Big Five model has its roots in a theory called the lexical hypothesis—the idea that we can create a sort of taxonomy of individual differences by examining the language we use to describe each other. Early researchers took an inventory of words that describe personality traits, such as "friendly," "helpful," "aggressive," and "creative." They then attempted to organize these words into related clusters. For instance, a person who's described as friendly is also likely to be described as gregarious, talkative, and outgoing. Researchers consistently found that trait-related adjectives tended to cluster into five groups, corresponding to the five traits in the Big Five.

Today, the Big Five model is the basis of most modern personality research, and as such has been used to illuminate everything from how much of our personality is inherited to which personality factors correlate with income.

Sources

Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She founded Truity in 2012, with the goal of making quality personality tests more affordable and accessible. She has led the development of assessments based on Myers and Briggs' personality types, Holland Codes, the Big Five, DISC, and the Enneagram. She is an ENTP, a tireless brainstormer, and a wildly messy chef. Find Molly on Twitter at @mollmown.


Two Hidden Personality Traits That High Achievers Have In Common

Psychologists tend to speak of personality in terms of five overarching traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

New research forthcoming in the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggests that psychologists need to dig a bit deeper to find the personality traits predictive of high achievement.

“The two factors within the five-factor model of personality most frequently associated with achievement are conscientiousness and openness,” state the authors of the research, led by Thomas Gatzka of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). “Whereas conscientiousness encompasses numerous traits with relevance for learning success, such as achievement striving, diligence, and self-discipline, openness has been linked to academically advantageous qualities such as curiosity, independent-mindedness, and educational aptitude.”

But it’s not enough to stop there. Other research suggests that openness and conscientiousness are each composed of two sub-dimensions. For openness, the sub-dimensions are:

  1. Senso-aesthetic openness — the preference for sensory and perceptual exploration and immersion in art, creativity, and imagination
  2. Intellectual openness — the preference for intellectual stimulation, scholastic pursuits, and cognitive stimulation

For conscientiousness, the sub-components are:

  1. Orderliness — the preference for routines, deliberation, and detail-orientation
  2. Industriousness — the tendency to stay focused and to pursue goals in a determined way

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It is the latter two components — intellectual openness and industriousness — that are indicative of high achievement according to Gatzka’s research. If anything, the sub-traits of senso-aesthetic openness and orderliness are associated with slightly lower levels of achievement.

“Those components of openness that are truly unique to the senso-aesthetic aspect (for example, aesthetic sensitivity and artistic inclination) seem to impede academic achievement. This is in line with the assumption that the non-academic components of openness might be detrimental to academic success,” state the researchers.

To arrive at this conclusion, Gatzka and his team administered a series of personality tests to 424 Swiss undergraduate students. The students were asked to provide their current GPA and to complete the Subjective Academic Achievement Scale where they rated their agreement with statements such as “My grades are appropriate for my effort” and “I progress adequately fast in my studies.”

They found that individuals with higher GPA’s were more likely to express intellectual openness, but not senso-aesthetic openness. They write, “There were noticeable differences between the two openness aspects. While intellectual openness correlated with GPA and subjective achievement, senso-aesthetic openness did not.”

A similar pattern was found for conscientious — industriousness correlated with GPA and subjective academic achievement but orderliness did not.

How well do these traits predict success outside of academic contexts? This is still an open question, but there is likely a good amount of carryover. There is also something to be said for the fact that 100+ years of psychological research has shown conscientiousness to be the strongest predictor of job success.

To sum up, this research provides a clear road map for those interested in improving their academic and career performance. Regardless of how naturally curious or goal-oriented you may be, acting in ways that foster your intellectual curiosity or industriousness is likely to lead to more academic and career success.


10 Personality Characteristics That Make Great Actors

This is probably a question that will intrigue a lot of people. What is it about certain people who make them great performers? Or at least have the potential to be a great performer. I know this question intrigues many of you, so I did some reading to investigate what qualities/personality types really translate into great performers.

Charisma: This is one of those real surface qualities that you would expect. Obviously a performer is going to be charming, expressive, and charismatic, right? They’re those real life-of-the-party type personalities that you aren’t surprised to hear they’re actors as well. This is because performing on stage, or on camera, requires a certain amount of expressive energy, so those individuals with high-octanes of energy and the ability to translate that energy on-screen should go without saying. While not every actor is going to be the most charismatic personality type in their actual life, having a natural charisma to you will always benefit and help you with your performing endeavours.

Hard Work & Commitment: This is another trait that should go without saying. Lazy people usually don’t make great actors — unless they’re so naturally talented and it comes easy to them. This is the case because acting is such a self-starter business and is going to require so much self-motivation, as well as endless amounts of your personal time in order to be successful. Also, with every job you get, you’re going to have to generously research for your role/character, as well as put in hours and hours of rehearsal time. Then once you start working on the job, the days are long and you’ll be drained at the end of them. If you don’t have the type of personality that is ready to grind and endure hard work, you will go nowhere. Commitment is also a huge one. You will have to commit your life to developing your craft, as well as bringing 100% percent of yourself to each role you play. Acting requires you to be present in the moment at every turn, which can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. People that can whole-heatedly commit themselves to something, even going overboard and becoming obsessive with their commitment, are the ones who will be successful as actors. (Just look at some of the greatest method actors in the business, as well as the great extremes that the best actors will go to in order to prepare for roles: weight loss, muscle-building, extensive research and character development, real-life situational training).

Confidence: This personality trait is another common one. It will help in a lot of areas in your performance career, particularly in the early stages of auditioning, as well as warding off criticism and rejection when times get tough. Understanding who you are as a person and being confident in who that is will serve you well in the business. You will be required to expose many facets of yourself (emotional, mental, and even sometimes physical) in front of people, so being confident in yourself and being able to surge into those vulnerable places without shriveling into a ball of anxiety is a huge component of an actor’s makeup. Thankfully confidence is something that can be improved on. The better you get at your craft, the more confident you’re going to get in your abilities and the less self-conscious you will be. They famously say, “tension is blocked talent”, and often anxiety and nerves will come from a lack of self-confidence and dread that you’re going to be horrible. Those nerves will lessen with practice and working on your craft, eventually leading to performances that come across brilliantly, with absolute ease. So finding a way to be confident in your self, as well as your skills as an actor is absolutely paramount.

Intelligence: If you listen to actors in interviews, you’re often blow away by how articulate and well spoken they are. They are smart and educated most of the time. But a good majority of actors out there are college drop-outs, that never even went to college, and a chunk of them never even finished high school. How come they seem so smart then? Well it’s for a couple of reasons. Firstly, their job requires them to do a ridiculous amount of reading and research on a wide-variety of topics that become school projects in their own way. So they’re well read and well schooled on important issues happening in the world because it often relates to the work they’re doing. Secondly, they’re actually really smart people. You have to be very smart to be a good actor. But often it’s the type of smart that doesn’t excel within confined institutions like high school and university or college. It’s the type of intelligence that you could define as emotional intelligence, self-awareness, or a real adept understanding and insight into human behaviour and what drives people. That’s because actors are constantly asking themselves these questions: what drives this character? What are their needs? What are their desires? Why do they act this way? It’s a constant evaluating and breaking down of the human psyche, which requires a large degree of intelligence. It’s just a very real-life understanding of human behaviour. So if you don’t find people fascinating, to the point that people watching is one of your favourite past-times and you’re feverously curious about all types of people, then the acting process may not be for you.

Highly Imaginative: This is obviously one of the biggest and most important traits that make great actors. Sure there is a large component of acting that will require you to take emotion and realities from your own life into your acting world, but you won’t always have those resources at your disposal. Sometimes you have to completely plant yourself in alternate realities that encompass absolutely nothing from the world you know. This is where your imagination will take over. Most actors have wild and vivid imaginations, and have a real fostered connection with their imaginations. We basically are trained to grow out of our imaginations as we grow up, which is why most actors are adult-children — never really leaving the psyche of that 10-year-old boy inside of them who would dress up as superheroes and saw the world as full of infinite possibilities. It’s crucial that actors are constantly finding ways to improve and get more in touch with their imaginations, as it’s a huge tool in your career. From the early stages of developing your character, as well as planting yourself in an authentic reality when you have several cameras, crew, and a very artificial world surrounding you on set. Harness the connection to your imagination and work on improving it whenever possible. It’s one of the useful tools for great performances.

Understanding of Human Behaviour: This section relates directly with intelligence, as this is where the actor’s intelligence will shine. The best actors have an exceptional understanding of human behaviour – what people want and need, universally, on the deepest level. This is what every single role they tackle will require from them — the ability to dig deep into the psyche behind their character and figure out their motives, which will determine their behaviour. They have the ability to read between the lines of scripts and offer their own insight into the world of their character and bring assets to the script that weren’t there before. This understanding of human behaviour, I believe, is something that the best actors will have naturally, but it’s also something they strengthen by continuous exercise. Every actor should have a completely engrossed interest in people and the way the act. The job of an actor is to emulate people who aren’t themselves, so it should go without saying that they love to observe people and watch what they do, and then try to figure out why they do the things they do.

Energy, Energy, Energy: When you take an acting class, the beginning of the class is often dedicated to exercising the body — both physically with movement and vocally through voice exercises. These exercises are designed to center the energy in your body and for you to be fully aware of where all the energy in your body is being stored. Yes, actors are required to exert a lot of energy, thus it’s beneficial if they’re naturally energetic people. But that energy will be chaotic and counter-productive for a good performance if it’s not used in the correct way. The best actors are exceptional at dispensing and controlling their energy. They know when to release bursts of energy, as well as when to bottle the energy up because their character is holding something back on the surface, but on the inside they’re exploding. So it’s so important that actors know how to move the energy in their body around to help guide and emphasis their performance. Also, it’s important to note that not all energy is going to be emotionally expressive. They’re forms of energy that are not emotional, and it’s important that actors have a handle on all energy types.

Introspective & Constantly Learning: One of the most important relationships an actor will ever have is the one they have with their self. It’s essential that actors are constantly learning about themselves and trying to understand more about who they are as a person. They will also go to great lengths to improve who they are as a person and get more in touch with their authentic self. This is necessary, as acting requires bringing a large amount of yourself to every character you play. You will to make the emotion in your performances feel authentic. If you don’t actually feel all the emotions and sensations that your character is going through, the camera or audience will pick up on it and it won’t be believable. The great actors are able to dig deep into themselves and pull out the good, bad, and ugly of who they are and put it on show for everyone to see. If you aren’t willing to live with that type of revelation and truth in front of audiences, then acting will be a tough job for you. You can’t be afraid, or unwilling to go to the dark and emotional places of yourself and become a great actor. Actors have to constantly be assessing themselves as people, trying to improve, as well as get closer to who they really are. Another way to get closer to this truth is by constant exercise through meditation, mentors, relaxation, visualization, and classes.

Eager to Explore: Most actors life out of a suitcase and are constantly on the road. A lot of them are feel best in the characters they portray. They’re whimsical spirits, with a yearning for a gypsy life. This obviously relates to the lifestyle of an actor — constantly going from project to project, place to place, changing where they’re working and whom they’re working with all the time. There’s absolutely no structure (unless you’re a regular on a show) and you’re constantly exploring, both a physical world and the emotional world you’re living in. It’s definitely important that an actor has a natural tendency to be drawn to this type of life, as opposed to a very structured and matter-of-fact world where most people live that work the 9-to-5 routine. Going deeper into it, acting is a constant exploration and is going to require a real commitment to a journey by the actor. You have to be prepared to take scenes in directions you weren’t expecting, or let things they’re feeling come across at unexpected moments. A lot of actors live within a very small bandwidth, but the best ones are completely free. They trust their instincts and enjoy the work the most when it turns out different from first expected. So the exploring nature of an actor is going to be both, tangible and intangible. This is must in the makeup of an actor!

Interest in Psychology and Humanity: This is not to say that a psychologist would make a great actor, or that an actor would make a great psychologist. But having an interest in the subject will go a long way in improving your performance. Again, understanding the psychology of humans and what drives people is essential in the acting discovery. So those people who are very intuitive and able to quickly conceptualize other’s behaviour and why they do certain things, is a natural skill that very good actors should possess. This also could be why you see so many actor humanitarians (also because they have so much money) but they have such a vested interest in humanity that they’re passionate about world issues, and really empathize with human suffering.

It’s not that you have to possess every single one of these qualities to be a good actor, but it just seems that in the makeup of actors, often you’ll see, at least some, of these qualities, interests, and personality types. While a lot of these qualities are essential to great performing, they can be improved. Great acting happens when both the inner and outer self are portrayed at the same time (sometimes conflicting one another). So get in touch with yourself, reach deep into your emotions, and continue to discover more about yourself and more about your character in the process.


Famous People with INFJ Personality

Actors

Al Pacino

Al Pacino credited acting with helping him cope with his shyness. He has also said that, despite his onscreen roles in the past that portray him in a certain light, he is not comfortable with confrontation. He prefers to walk away and say nothing rather than hurt someone’s feelings.

Jennifer Connelly

American actress Jennifer Connelly found fame at a very young age, but as an introvert, she was overwhelmed and decided to take time off. She left acting at the height of her career to study drama, a huge risk which eventually paid off as she returned, a mature student with the confidence to take on leading roles.

Cate Blanchett

This successful actress likes to observe rather than take part. In fact, she bases her acting skills on being able to immerse herself into other people’s emotional states. She uses these to create her onscreen characters.

Michelle Pfeiffer

This is another actress that likes to observe from afar without getting too involved. This famous INFJ personality shows all four traits. She is introverted and uses her intuition when it comes to working. She likes to be well-prepared in all aspects of her life.

Adrien Brody

Adrien Brody gives meaning to the word ‘creativity’. You certainly cannot pigeonhole this actor. He has starred in many different kinds of films including sci-fi romance, psychological thrillers, comedy, suspense and biographical dramas. He’s also a fan of hip hop music.

Musicians

Marilyn Manson

Would you guess that Marilyn Manson is an introvert? This eccentric musical genius has often said his dressing style is a mask to shield him from the public’s eye.

George Harrison

Known as the ‘quiet Beatle’, George’s influence was anything but quiet. George was intensely spiritual before it became popular. Inspired by Hinduism and Eastern culture, you can hear these influences in his music.

Leonard Cohen

Canadian singer and songwriter, Cohen began his career as a poet and novelist. He had many poems published before moving onto writing books and was a successful author. He started writing songs after he met a flamenco guitarist who inspired him to learn to play the guitar.

Politics

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was as well-known as her husband, President Franklin D Roosevelt. She became a political activist in her own right, attending hospitals to offer support during WWII. She was particularly outspoken on African-American human rights and was awarded the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Martin Luther King Junior

Speaking of African-American rights, Martin Luther King Jr led the Civil Rights Movement in a peaceful manner. He advocated non-violent methods of protest which included rousing speeches that are still listened to today.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler instigated WWII because he had a vision of the future. He had the power to inspire devout followers because of his oratory prowess. His powers of persuasion were second to none.

He used his intuition to predict how people around him would react so that he could pre-empt them. This skill enabled him to remain one step ahead of his opponents.

Gandhi

Gandhi was the antithesis of Hitler. Gandhi loved mankind and was opposed to all kinds of violence.

He starts a series of non-violent civil disobedience, for example, a march against a tax levied at Indian people only. The march forced the British to drop the taxes and Gandhi realised how powerful non-violent protest could be.

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Gandhi

Novelists

JK Rowling

There can’t be many people who haven’t heard of British novelist JK Rowling. But go back a couple of decades and it was a very different story.

She was a young, single mother, living on benefits who would go to a local café to write to keep warm. Now she has lost her billionaire status because she has given away so much of her fortune to charitable causes.

“Are you the sort of person who gloats when they see a woman fall, or the kind that celebrates a magnificent recovery?” JK Rowling

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Russian author and philosopher Dostoevsky grew up in socially and politically charged times. He had an extraordinary youth. Arrested for being involved in revolutionary acts, he was sentenced to death, however, at the last minute, he was pardoned.

He was a chronic epileptic and suffered poor health for most of his life. But he persevered and went on to write some of the greatest Russian novels of all time.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie was a British writer known as the ‘Queen of Crime’. She wrote over 66 crime books and created two classic detectives – Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. She is also credited with writing ‘The Mousetrap’, the world’s longest running play.

Scientists and Philosophers

Carl Jung

Carl Jung is a Swiss psychoanalyst that took on Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis and developed analytical psychology.

He devised the personality types of introvert and extrovert and had a huge influence on modern psychology. In fact, the Myers-Briggs personality types, including INFJ type, was devised from his original work.

By psyche, I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious.” Carl Jung

Plato

Plato and Aristotle in “The School of Athens” painting by Raphael

Although we cannot tell if Plato was an INFJ personality, his character traits are an indication that he would have been one.

He was a quiet and reflective man who wanted very much to help improve society. He would have had an enormous amount of knowledge, both given to him from mentor Socrates and imparted to Aristotle.

Niels Bohr

Finally, Danish Noble Prize winner Niels Bohr makes it onto our list of famous people who had INFJ personality traits. He was a physicist who worked alongside Ernest Rutherford on atomic structure and quantum physics. In WWII, he escaped from the Nazis and fled to the US where he began his humanitarian work.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

This was an interesting article about INFJs. It would be great if other articles could be written for the other personality types as well.

Thank you so much for sharing this list. I was so impressed to see MLK and Ghandi on the list. I just wish ugly Hitler weren’t there!

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Big Ideas Articles & More

Extraverts are happier, and so are the emotionally stable, personality researchers tell us. It also pays to be more open to new experiences, more agreeable, and more conscientious. What does that mean for the rest of us—the introverts, the neurotics, the disorganized?

You may recognize these personality dimensions as part of the Big Five, the traits that researchers are often referring to when they talk about personality. According to a 2008 review, the Big Five explain anywhere from 39 to 63 percent of the variation in well-being between people.

That’s enough to be discouraging, if you don’t fall into one of the “beneficial” categories. But don’t lose heart yet, the authors of a new study say. Each Big Five domain can be divided into two “aspects”—enthusiasm and assertiveness rather than simply “extraversion,” for example—and, it turns out, one of each pair is more predictive of well-being than the other.

In other words, rather than lumping ourselves (and others) into broad categories, we’d do better to understand these nuances and what they might mean for our pursuit of happiness.

In this study, researchers surveyed over 700 U.S. residents about their personality and their well-being. The personality questions (which you can answer for yourself) covered the ten aspects of the Big Five:

  • Extraversion includes enthusiasm (being friendly and sociable) and assertiveness (dominating social situations).
  • Neuroticism includes withdrawal (tending toward depression and anxiety) and volatility (tending toward anger).
  • Conscientiousness includes industriousness (being hard-working and self-disciplined) and orderliness (being organized and preferring routines).
  • Agreeableness includes compassion (being caring and empathic) and politeness (being respectful).
  • Openness to experience includes openness (being creative and appreciating beauty) and intellect (being curious and reflective).

For well-being, researchers didn’t simply ask participants how happy they were. Their questions reflected three scientific measurements of well-being, capturing different visions of the good life. They asked about everything from feeling positive and satisfied with life, to experiencing a sense of meaning and purpose, to having loving and warm relationships, to feeling autonomous and in control.

In the end, the results offered greater clarity about the link between personality and well-being. Extraverted participants were indeed happier—but drilling down deeper, they found it was the more enthusiastic ones who tended to report higher life satisfaction, more positive emotions, and better relationships. More assertive participants didn’t report these happy outcomes.

Similarly, neurotics fared poorly in terms of well-being—but some of them more than others. More withdrawn individuals reported lower life satisfaction, less positive and more negative emotions, less self-acceptance, and a reduced sense of control over their environment. More volatile people didn’t show this pattern.

While enthusiasm and withdrawal were the strongest positive and negative predictors of well-being, the researchers found other links, as well. More conscientious and agreeable participants were better off, but solely thanks to the traits of industriousness and compassion. Being orderly or polite didn’t seem to make a difference in people’s happiness.

Meanwhile, both more intellectual and more open individuals had higher well-being, though the intellectuals tended to report more personal growth and a greater sense of autonomy.

In short, certain personalities and certain flavors of happiness seemed to go together—and, though these results don’t imply causation, they might inform how you go about pursuing happiness. For some, that might mean leveraging the personality traits you already have: channeling your intellect and open-mindedness to achieve the happiness of flow, engagement, and learning, for example. For others, that might mean deliberately cultivating certain personality traits (it’s possible!) that will help you achieve the type of happiness you want: for instance, practicing compassion and enthusiasm to strengthen your relationships.


Cognition and Emotion

Cognitive theories of personality have made important contributions to counseling and psychotherapy by demonstrating the ways in which cognition can cause or modify positive or negative emotion. Aaron T. Beck’s method of cognitive-behavioral therapy and Albert Ellis’s rational emotive behavior therapy both emphasize the ways in which distorted beliefs (mostly attributional beliefs) directly lead to experiences of negative emotion such as anxiety and depression. A long-standing debate concerns whether all human emotions more complex than simple sensory pleasure or pain are a result of cognitive processes or are merely congruent with them. In actuality, most cognitive theories of personality emphasize the presence of evolutionarily prepared (i.e., automatic) reactions and temperaments and the importance of the individual’s perception and interpretation of his or her own biological reactions during events.

Self-Discrepancy Theory

Self-discrepancy theory is a form of dissonance theory that states that people are motivated to maintain a consistency among their self-perceptions and beliefs. The humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers proposed that incongruence between the self as experienced and the ideal self is a source of human suffering. Support for this position is buttressed by the many studies that have found successful counseling outcomes characterized by reductions in this incongruence. E. Tory Higgins incorporated ideas of expectancy into the self-discrepancy model. He demonstrated that discrepancies between people’s current self-appraisals and their self-constructs as they wish to be (the ideal self) lead to feelings of dejection and depression. In contrast, discrepancies between people’s current self-appraisals and how they believe others expect them to be (ought self) lead to agitation and anxiety. A number of moderators of the strength of this effect have been identified, including the amount of the discrepancy, factors that increase or decrease the salience of the discrepancy, and the importance of the discrepancy to the individual.

Entity Versus incremental Judgments of Self

Carol Dweck has demonstrated how a person’s perception of self as static or as capable of growth has dramatic effects on both emotions and motivation. Dweck distinguishes between two forms of belief that people may hold regarding their efficacy. The first, or entity view, regards any ability such as intelligence as fixed or stable. Persons taking an entity view within any domain of ability (entity theorists) will develop goals that avoid failure, are measured by absolute performance standards, and are low risk. A person can also perceive his or her efficacy incrementally. An incremental theorist regards abilities as changeable or improvable through challenge and work. Incremental theorists develop relative or mastery goals and are less motivated by fear of failure. Entity theorists are performance oriented, while incremental theorists are learning oriented. Entity theorists are more likely to be judgmental regarding themselves and others and to experience helplessness, depression, and anxiety.