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Most people assume their personality type is written in stone, but that may not be the case. Pessimism, a personality type is characterized by seeing the glass "half empty", as well as the tendency to believe in negative events or that the worst will happen. It also suggests a tendency to lack confidence in the future or even hope in the future...

Stress has been connected to the development of anxiety disorders and depression, which in turn can encourage personality changes. Major life events can also prompt changes in personality. Therefore, it is also possible that more long term stress would be able to induce a personality change, for this study, specifically pessimism.

In a recent study, 332 participants completed different surveys for five weeks in a row, and were encouraged to consider the previous week in their responses. Researchers utilized the most widely used scales for both stress (10-item Perceived Stress Scale) and pessimism (items taken from the Life Orientation Test-Revised). This research is the first to show that stress and pessimism are linked. Interestingly, researchers noticed decreases in levels of perceived stress as well as pessimism. This may be due to the unexpected benefits of participating the study, such as the possibility that expressing stress levels may be cathartic. The changes in pessimism in five weeks are supported by previous research showing that personality changes can occur in such a short timeframe.

As in any study, some limitations are inherent. This study was based on participants reporting their perceived stress and pessimism, which could lead to intentional or unintentional dishonesty from participants. Stress may also influence other personality traits, like conscientiousness and extraversion, which may in turn affect pessimism. Additionally, personal growth after a traumatic event may influence the development of positive personality traits, as well... not just negative ones like pessimism. Therefore this doesn't mean that stress causes pessimism.

This study is the first to show the link between perceived stress and pessimism, but further research is indicated to determine the chronological order of these effects, as well as how stress might affect other personality traits. Finally, it is imperative that these research efforts are able to make meaningful and relevant statements about human health. With an ever-increasing need for effective mental health treatment, future research should address the relevance of these stress-personality dynamics for human health.

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Taryn DeCicco ND, LAc, LDN of Apple A Day Clinic in Arlington Heights, IL has been specializing in Acne, Skin, and Digestive disorders for over 16 years.