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Character is what counts: Extroverts live healthier lives

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Those who are open and self-confident have better defenses. The way of life seems to play only a subordinate role in terms of the immune system.

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Early to bed, little alcohol and a balanced diet: it is well known that a healthy lifestyle has a positive effect on health. What is new, however, is that the character also plays a major role. Confronted people have significantly better defenses than introverted people. This is what British researchers report in the journal “Psychoneuroendocrinology”.

For its study, the team led by psychologist Kavita Vedhara from the University of Nottingham had 121 adults between the ages of 18 and 59 take a personality test that provided information about their character. The focus was on characteristics such as open-mindedness, shyness, conscientiousness and friendliness. In addition, the test persons - 86 women and 35 men - had to state whether they smoke, consume alcohol and how often they do sports.

The thing about the chicken and the egg

The researchers then took blood samples from the participants and analyzed them. The comparison of the data showed that the blood of the extroverted subjects contained more of the substances that ensure that the immune system reacts faster and more effectively when it detects inflammation and pathogens than in reluctant people.

"Extroverted people, from whom we would expect that they come into contact with infections more often due to their social nature, have an immune system that can effectively deal with infections," the Vedhara University quoted in a press release. People who are exposed to rare infections due to their introverted nature, on the other hand, have an immune system that works less efficiently and has poorer defenses.

According to the researchers, however, it is unclear how the aspects are related: Is it the genes that influence the character or does the character influence the genes? This is now to be shown by further studies.