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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Jul;31(7):1583-91. Epub 2006 Jan 11.

Relationship between cortisol responses to stress and personality.

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Department of Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Although there is growing evidence of links between the cortisol stress response and personality, the nature of the relationships and the underlying mechanisms require further clarification. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between personality traits and cortisol responses to stress using the Revised NEO Personality Inventory five-factor model of personality. In total, 68 healthy adults, aged 18-30 years, completed the personality assessment and underwent a laboratory psychological stress test that consisted of a 5 min speech and 5-min of mental arithmetic. Findings showed that in the sample as a whole, less Openness was associated with lower cortisol responses to the challenge. Cortisol responses also corresponded to certain personality dimensions in a gender-specific manner. Blunted cortisol responses were associated with higher Neuroticism in women and with lower Extraversion in men. These findings suggest that personality traits that have been traditionally associated with greater psychopathology were also associated with blunted HPA axis responses to stress.

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