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Can Your Personality Help You Weather Tough Economy?

Can Your Personality Help You Weather Tough Economy?

By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY

They live in New York City, which Rentfrow’s research has found high on neuroticism but also on openness. His six-year study of more than 600,000 Americans, in September’s Perspectives on Psychological Science, suggests some traits vary by where you live.

Unemployment takes its toll

Rentfrow says certain traits can help buffer economic effects. “An emotionally stable and open person who may be in the unfortunate position of being jobless might be better equipped to find some sort of alternative form of income because they’re more adaptable,” he says.

But even among optimists, joblessness takes a toll, finds a new analysis of 2006 data from German households published in the journal Social Indicators Research.

“When people get unemployed, life satisfaction decreases and stays low until they get re-employed,” says co-author Ulrich Schimmack of the University of Toronto. “You don’t get used to unemployment.”

Goldsmith says that even when things start improving, a person’s self-esteem following joblessness recovers more slowly. “Our work shows that there is a lingering ‘hangover’ effect,” he says.

The current crisis is being called the worst since the Great Depression. But historian Jeffrey Hyson of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia says, “There’s a lack of immediacy in our cultural relationship with the Great Depression that makes it very difficult for us to emotionally understand what a real depression was like or would be like. It’s seen as a very distant period that doesn’t look like today. We can’t imagine those same privations occurring in today’s world.”

Psychologist Brent Roberts of the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign says knowing about personality may be somewhat useful, but self- doesn’t change the economic reality.

“It may help you understand why you might react more negatively or positively than friends, but we’re all going to have to figure out some way to deal with it, despite our personalities,” he says.

Courtesy of © 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.

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