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A new look at neuroticism: Should we worry so much about worrying?

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    Rights statement: The final version of this paper will appear in Current Directions in Psychological Science, © Sage https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0963721419887184

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-101
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number1
Early online date12 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


People higher in neuroticism seem to have drawn the short straw of personality. However, there are multiple ways to score highly in neuroticism. Analyses of the short-scale Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised in three large datasets revealed that higher neuroticism can mean having elevated scores on all items, elevated scores mainly on items related to anxiety and tension, or elevated scores mainly on items related to worry and vulnerability. Epidemiological and molecular genetic studies revealed that people in the first group are at greater risk for poorer mental and physical health, but that people in the latter two groups, and especially those people beset by worry and feelings of vulnerability, have better physical health. These findings suggest that future research on neuroticism and health should focus on different ways that people can exhibit high neuroticism.

    Research areas

  • emotional stability, epidemiology, facet, genome-wide association study, GWAS, health, longevity, personality, self-rated health, well-being

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