Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neurotics don't just avoid action: They dislike it, study finds

Date:
April 22, 2014
Source:
University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication
Summary:
Neurotics don't just avoid taking action. By their very nature they dislike it. A study of nearly 4,000 college students in 19 countries has uncovered new details about why neurotic people may avoid making decisions and moving forward with life. Turns out that when they are asked if action is positive, favorable, good, they just don't like it as much as non-neurotics. Framing communication messages that get around this roadblock is a key to success communication with neurotic folks.

That person we all seem to know who we say is neurotic and unable to take action? Turns out he or she isn't unable to act but simply doesn't want to.

Related Articles


A study of nearly 4,000 college students in 19 countries has uncovered new details about why neurotic people may avoid making decisions and moving forward with life. Turns out that when they are asked if action is positive, favorable, good, they just don't like it as much as non-neurotics. Therefore persuasive communications and other interventions may be useful if they simply alter neurotics' attitudes toward inaction.

These findings come the study "Neuroticism and Attitudes Toward Action in 19 Countries." It is published in the Journal of Personality and was written by Molly E. Ireland, Texas Tech University; Justin Hepler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Hong Li, Battelle Center for Analytics and Public Health; and Dolores Albarracín -the principal investigator of the study-- from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.

"You're so neurotic!" It's a phrase that's tossed about casually, but what exactly is neuroticism? It is a personality trait defined by the experience of chronic negative affect -- including sadness, anxiety, irritability, and self-consciousness -- that is easily triggered and difficult to control. Neurotic people tend to avoid acting when confronted with major and minor life stressors, leading to negative life consequences.

The researchers sought to determine whether and under what conditions neuroticism is associated with favorable or unfavorable representations of action and inaction. They investigated whether depression and anxiety would decrease proactive behavior among neurotic individuals, and whether a person's collectivistic tendencies -- considering the social consequences of one's behavior before acting -- would moderate the negative associations between neuroticism and action/inaction. The study found neurotics look at action less favorably and inaction more favorably than emotionally stable people do.

"People who are less emotionally stable have less positive attitudes towards action and more positive attitudes toward inaction," the authors wrote. "Furthermore, anxiety was primarily responsible for neurotic individuals' less positive attitudes toward action. The link between neuroticism and less positive attitudes toward action was strongest among individuals who endorsed more collectivistic than individualistic beliefs." So, your neurotic friend who explicitly dislikes action is probably collectivistic -favoring social harmony, family and friends.

"People who are interested in reducing the harmful consequences of neuroticism in their own lives should think about how their attitudes toward action might be affecting their behavior. By learning to value action, they may be able to change many of the negative behaviors associated with neuroticism and anxiety -- such as freezing when they should act, or withdrawing from stress instead of dealing proactively with it," the authors concluded, suggesting that attitudes about action and inaction goals have broad consequences for behavior across diverse contexts and cultures. "These findings lay the groundwork for finding new methods of studying and ultimately preventing the negative consequence of neurotic action avoidance. Specifically, increasing exposure to action may be sufficient to combat tendencies to avoid proactive behavior."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Molly E. Ireland, Justin Hepler, Hong Li, Dolores Albarracin. Neuroticism and Attitudes Toward Action in 19 Countries. Journal of Personality, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/jopy.12099

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication. "Neurotics don't just avoid action: They dislike it, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422121237.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication. (2014, April 22). Neurotics don't just avoid action: They dislike it, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422121237.htm
University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication. "Neurotics don't just avoid action: They dislike it, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422121237.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins