in everyday life. Because of new, contradictory
studies, there has been disagreement about whether this is also
associated with increased variability in emotional experiences, i.e.
mood swings,” says the study’s first author, Nina Mader from the
Wilhelm Wundt Institute of Psychology at Leipzig University.
Personality psychologists at Leipzig University have now developed a new approach
to modeling data that
. A total of 2,518 people were asked about their
“We use an approach from Bayesian statistics that allows additional
flexibility in data modeling. We first successfully tested this
approach in simulations and then re-examined 13 longitudinal data
sets. The results suggest that neurotic people do indeed experience
greater variability in negative emotions,” explains Mader.
Neuroticism is a personality trait. Personality traits are relatively
stable and consistent across situations over time. They
encompass both our experiences and our behavior, including how we
think (cognition) and how we feel (affect).
People have different personalities and therefore different levels of
neuroticism. “So there is not a black-and-white division
between neurotic and non-neurotic people, but rather a
dimensional continuum with many shades of grey,” says the
Unpredictable Mood Swings in Neuroticism
People with high neuroticism scores not only experience negative emotions
more strongly but also more often than people with average or
They are more often self-critical, react more poorly to external
criticism, and are more likely to experience feelings of ‘not being
good enough’. Studies have shown that neuroticism scores are
highest in late adolescence and then decline and stabilize in
In addition, women and people with a low socio-economic status
have higher neuroticism scores than other people.
Since the 1990s, personality psychologists have been interested in whether
and how personality influences our emotional experiences. Several
studies have assessed the personalities of large samples and observed
emotional experiences over time.
For example, respondents were asked several times a day how sad, angry,
or bored they felt on a scale of 1 to 7. This revealed a clear
connection between neuroticism and the experience of negative
Unlocking Emotional Vulnerability
“While negative emotions occur very rarely in the everyday lives of people
with low neuroticism scores, people with high neuroticism scores
report significantly more negative emotions in everyday life,”
This is typically associated with a disproportionate reaction to
For example, a minor difference of opinion could cause great anger in the
latter, or even the mere thought that the train might be very crowded
today could cause intense stress and worry.
- Emotional (in)stability: Neuroticism is associated with
increased variability in negative emotion after all –