Why Social Butterflies May Be Less Likely to Get Sick
If you’ve packed your social calendar as full as Santa’s sleigh (and you love the thought of all that socializing) lucky you: You might be less likely to catch cold this winter. At least that’s one takeaway from a recent study that links personality types and immune responses.
Researchers asked a small but diverse group of volunteers (most between 18 and 33) to take a personality test that sorted them into one of five types. Extroverts, for example, were the highly social folks, while the more cautious planners and harm-avoiders fell into the “conscientious” category. Participants also gave a blood sample that revealed genetic evidence of their “biological immune response,” basically, how big a defense their bodies would muster against a germy invader.
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Turns out, the extroverts showed the highest levels of immune-system functioning, with the conscientious crew coming in last. (Introverts, don't despair: You may be better at achieving weight-loss goals, other research finds!)
The study authors were careful to say there’s a chicken-and-egg riddle here. There’s no telling from this research whether people who have stronger immune systems are genetically more up for socializing or if, over time, socializing boosts our ability to fight off the latest office cold.
Either way, party animals may have thicker immunological armor. Their more retiring counterparts? Could be just as well that, for them, a warm fire trumps another night out.