Personality Psychology Reveals 10 Surprising Insights about Personality

personality psychology

These insights from personality psychology may seem surprising and weird at first, yet, they are based on actual scientific studies.

With so many tests out there that measure personality traits, you would think that we pretty much know all there is to know about ourselves.

But science has a funny way of evolving and bringing us new facts.

Researchers in the field of personality psychology have been looking into some other aspects of our personality that might just surprise you.  Here are ten of them:

1. Your personality has its own smell

Did you know that people can guess characteristics of personality just by your smell? In a study, people wore plain, white tee-shirts for three consecutive nights and volunteers then smelled them.

Certain characteristics, such as dominance and anxiety were detected. In the tee-shirt tests, smelling clothes proved to be as accurate as when volunteers watched a video.

It is thought that it is possible to discern characteristics in this way because the body emits hormones and pheromones that we can detect in sweat.

2. Your attractiveness depends on who you are with

Attractiveness is not a fixed concept, as one study from personality psychology showed. It goes up and down depending on who you are with. You are more likely to be rated as attractive if you are surrounded by those who are deemed to be less attractive than you.

In the study, volunteers were shown a series of faces and asked to rate them on a scale of how attractive they were. At the same time they were also shown ‘distractor’ faces; sometimes these distractors were more attractive, sometimes less.

When shown distractor faces that were less attractive, the volunteers rated the series of faces more attractive, and vice versa.

3. If you are helpful, you’re probably having more sex

Helpful people tend to have more sex, a study found. The study asked people about their altruistic tendencies and their sex lives. It was discovered that those who were consistently altruistic had sex more frequently and enjoyed more sexual partners.

Dr. Pat Barclay, one of the study’s authors, said:

“This study is the first to show that altruism may translate into real mating success in Western populations, that altruists have more mates than non-altruists.”

4. Being an optimist improves your life

Seeing the cup half full or empty could dramatically influence your quality of life.

A study followed 447 people over the course of 30 years and tracked their personality, alongside their physical and mental functioning.

Results showed that being an optimist gives you a better quality of life, both mentally and physically.



Researchers do not know why optimists fare better but agree that it is an important discovery for healthcare professionals.

5. The way you move influences others

We’ve all heard of ‘mirroring’, when a person shows subconsciously that they like you by copying your physical movements. Now, researchers in the field of personality psychology have found that people who move in similar ways not only interact in a better way but also showed signs of better collective behaviour.

Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Essentially, our movements give an insight into our inherent personality traits. What we demonstrate is that people typically want to react and interact with people who are similar to themselves.”

6. Being in love improves your outlook on life

One study showed that simply by being in love can help reduce neurotic traits such as anxiety, insecurity and pessimism.

Couples were asked to review a series of fictitious scenarios and then discuss how they would react to them.

Those that suffered from neurotic tendencies tended to be more optimistic about the world when they were in a relationship.

7. Your height influences your life-partner choices

Think women prefer taller men? Think again. One study has shown that rather than pick a taller than average male for a mate, couples tended to choose people that were of similar heights.

Researchers believe that this is inherently in our genes, as Dr. Albert Tenesa, the study’s first author, said:

“Our genes drive our attraction for partners of similar height to ours, i.e. tall people pair with tall people.”

8. Anxiety disorders are linked to fear of the unknown

Most anxiety disorders have one specific cause at the centre, a fear of the unknown.

In one study from personality psychology, researchers measured blink responses to a series of mild electric shocks. Some of the shocks were predictable whilst others were a surprise. The results showed that those suffering from an anxiety disorder tended to blink more strongly to unpredictable shocks.

Professor K. Luan Phan, a senior study author, said:

“Knowing that sensitivity to uncertain threat underlies all of the fear-based anxiety disorders also suggests that drugs that help specifically target this sensitivity could be used or developed to treat these disorders.”

9. Your face gives away your sexual preferences

The eyes are windows to the soul apparently, but so is the face if you believe the results from one study. Volunteers were asked to judge, based on faces alone, the sexual preferences of men and women. In surprisingly accurate results, 72% predicted their sexual tendencies.

And those results? Men with large noses, square jaws and small eyes prefer short-term relationships, as do women with large mouths and wide eyes.

10. A preference for sweet or bitter foods is linked to personality

Finally, those who prefer the taste of bitter foods are said to have traits of sadism, narcissism and psychopathy. Those who had a sweet tooth were assessed as being more agreeable.

In the study, people were shown bitter foods, such as tonic water, coffee, vinegar etc., and asked to rate them. They then undertook a personality test and the results were combined.

The authors of the study commented:

“…bitter taste experiences are causally linked to hostile thoughts and behavior…

Particularly robust associations were found for everyday sadism, which was significantly predicted by general bitter taste preferences…”

H/T: PsyBlog



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Janey D.

Janey D.

Janey Davies has been published online for over 8 years. She is the head writer for Shoppersbase.com, she also writes for AvecAgnes.co.uk, Ewawigs.com and has contributed to inside3DP.com. She has an Honours Degree in Psychology and her passions include learning about the mind, popular science and politics. When she is relaxing she likes to walk her dog, read science fiction and listen to Muse.

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Personality Psychology Reveals 10 Surprising Insights about Personality