Which personality traits have favourable impact on psychological health during stressful condition?

Muhamad Saiful Bahri Yusoff


Introduction: Personality researchers have proposed five dimensions of personality that are extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness. The five-factor model offers a theoretical basis for medical educators to understand the impact of personality traits on medical students’ psychological health during stressful medical training This study attempted to investigate on which personality traits have favour impact on psychological health of medical students during a stressful period – the final examination of first year. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on medical students in a public medical school. Personality traits were measured by USM Personality Inventory and psychological health parameters were measured by 21-item Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. Pearson correlation test was performed by SPSS to determine correlation between personality trait and psychological health parameters. Results: A total of 174 medical students participated in this study. Extroversion (rstress=-0.44, ranxiety=-0.41, rdepression=-0.56 ), conscientiousness (rstress=-0.38, ranxiety=-0.36, rdepression=-0.51 ), agreeableness (rstress=-0.28, ranxiety=-0.25, rdepression=-0.47 ) and openness (rstress=-0.34, ranxiety=-0.31, rdepression=-0.47 ) negatively correlated with stress, anxiety and depression. Neuroticism (rstress=0.53, ranxiety=0.47, rdepression=0.60 ) positively correlated with stress, anxiety and depression. Conclusion: Extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness demonstrated favourable impact and neuroticism demonstrated unfavourable impact on stress, anxiety and depression of the medical students during a stressful period.

Full Text:



Sherperd P. Personality Matter: The Whole Brain Approach, Why We Learn, Think and Behave. Malaysia: Brain Works Media; 2007.

McRae RR, Costa PT. Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1987;52(81-90).

McRae RR, Costa PT. Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist. 1997;52:509-16.

Goldberg LR. Language and individual differences: The search for universals in personality lexicons. In: Wheeler L, editor. Review of Personality and Social Psychology. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage; 1981.

Goldberg LR. What are the best ways to describe an individual’s personality? Dialogue. 2008;23(9):35-9.

Goldberg LR, Johnson JA, Eber HW, Hogan R, Ashton MC, Cloninger CR, et al. The International Personality Item Pool and the future of public-domain personality measures. Journal of Research in Personality. 2006;40:84-96.

Goldberg LR. A broad-bandwidth, public domain, personality inventory measuring the lower-level facets of several five-factor models. In: Mervielde I, Deary I, De Fruyt F, Osterdorf F, editors. Personality Psychology in Europe. Tilburg, Netherland: Tilburg University Press; 1999. p. 7-28.

Yusoff MSB, Rahim AFA, Esa AR. The USM Personality Inventory (USMaP-i) Manual. Malaysia: KKMED Publications; 2010. Available from: http://www.medic.usm.my/dme/images/stories/staff/KKMED/2010/manual%20usmap-i.pdf.

Yusoff MSB, Mat Pa MN, Mey SC, Aziz RA, Rahim AFA. A longitudinal study of relationships between previous academic achievement, emotional intelligence and personality traits with psychological health of medical students during stressful periods. Education for Health. 2013;26(1):39.

Yusoff MSB. Impact of summative assessment on first year medical students' mental health. International Medical Journal. 2011;18(3):172-5.

Yusoff MSB, Abdul Rahim AF, Baba AA, Ismail SB, Mat Pa MN, Esa AR. The impact of medical education on psychological health of students: A cohort study. Psychology, health & medicine. 2013;18(4):420-30.

Yusoff MSB, Abdul Rahim AF, Baba AA, Ismail SB, Mat Pa MN, Esa AR. Prevalence and associated factors of stress, anxiety and depression among prospective medical students. Asian Journal of Psychiatry. 2013;6(1):128-33.

Yusoff MSB, Rahim AFA, Yaacob MJ. Prevalence and sources of stress among Universiti Sains Malaysia Medical Students. Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences. 2010;17(1):30-7.

Nordin NM, Talib MA, Yaacob SN. Personality, loneliness and mental health among undergraduates at Malaysian Universities. European Journal of Scientific Research. 2009;36(2):285-98.

Oishi S, Schimmack U. Residential Mobility, Wellbeing, and Mortality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2010;98(6):980-94.

Popropat AE. A meta-analysis of the five-factor model of personality and academic performance. Psychological Bulletin. 2009;135(2):322-38.

Steele PD, Schmidt J, Shultz J. Refining the relationship between personality and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin. 2008;134:138-61.

Goodwin RD, Friedman HS. Health Status and the Five-factor Personality Traits in a Nationally Representative Sample. Journal of Health Psychology. 2006;11(5):643-54.

Ferguson E, James D, Madeley L. Factors associated with success in medical school: systematic review of literature. British Medical Journal. 2002;324:952-7.

Judge TA, Bono Je, Ilies R, Gerhardt MW. Personality and Leadershp: A Qualitative and Quantitative Review. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2002;87(4):765-80.

Seibert SE, Kraimer MA. The five-Factor Model of Personality and Career Success. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2001;58:1-21.

Furnham A, Cheng H. Personality as Predictor of Mental Health and Happiness in the East and West. Personality and Individual Difference. 1999;27:395-403.

Tokar DM, Fischer AR, Subich LM. Personality and vocational behavior: A selective review of the literature, 1993-1997. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 1998;53:115-53.

Tett RP, Jackson DN, Rothstein M. Personality measures as predictors of job performance: A meta-analytic review. Personnel Psychology. 1991;44:703-42.

Barrick MR, Mount MK. The big five personality dimensions and job performance: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology. 1991;44:1-26.

McManus IC, Keeling A, Paice E. Stress, burnout and doctors’ attitudes to work are determined by personality and learning style: A twelve year longitudinal study of UK medical undergraduates. BMC Medicine. 2004;2(9).

De Raad B, Schouwenburg HC. Personality in learning and education: A review. European Journal of Personality. 1996;10:303-36.

Bidjerano T, Dai DY. The relationship between the big-five model of personality and self-regulated learning strategies. Learning and Individual Differences. 2007;17(1):69-81.

Barrick MR, Mount MK, Strauss JP. Conscientiousness and performance of sales representatives: Test for the mediating effect of goal setting. Journal of Applied Psychology. 1993;78(715-722).

Steele PD. The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin. 2007;133(1):65-94.

Vermetten YJ, Lodewijks HG, Vermunt JD. The role of personality traits and goal orientations in strategy use. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 2001;26:149-70.

Trapmann S, Hell B, Hirn JOW, Schuler H. Meta-analysis of the relationship between the big five and academic success in university. Journal of Psychology. 2007;215(2):132-51.

Tempelaar DT, Gijselaers WH, van der Loeff SS, Nijhuis JFH. A structural equation model analyzing the relationship of student achievement motivations and personality factors in a range of academic subject-matter areas. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 2007;32(1):105-31.

Lounsbury JW, Steele RP, Loveland JM, Ginson LW. An investigation of personality traits in relation to adolescent school absenteeism. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 2004;33(5):457-66.

Judge TA, Martocchio JJ, Thoresen CJ. Five-factor model of personality and employee absence. Journal of Applied Psychology. 1997;82(5):745-55.

McManus IC, Lefored F, Furnham A, Shandi S, Pincus T. Career preference and personality differences in medical school applicants. Psychological, Health and Medicine. 1996;1:235-48.

Rothman S, Coetzer EP. The big-five personality dimensions and job performance. Journal of Industrial Psychology. 2003;29(1):68-74.

Schmidt FL, Hunter JE. The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: practical and theoretical implication of 85 years of research findings. Pscyhological Bulletin. 1998;124(262-274).

Yusoff MSB, Liew YY, Ling HW, Tan CS, Loke HM, Lim XB, et al. A study on stress, stressors and coping strategies among Malaysian medical students. International Journal of Students’ Research. 2011;1(2):45-50.

Yusoff MSB, Rahim AFA, Aziz RA, Mat Pa MN, See CM, Ja'afar R, et al. The validity and reliability of the USM Personality Inventory (USMaP-i): its use to identify personality of future medical students. International Medical Journal. 2011;18(4):283-7.

Crawford JR, Henry JD. The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS): Normative data and latent structure in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Psychological Society. 2003;42:111-31.

Henry JD, Crawford JR. The short-form version of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21): Construct validity and normative data in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2005;44:227-39.

Lovibond SH, Lovibond PF. Manual for the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales. 2nd ed. Sydney: Pscyhology Foundation; 1995.

McDowell I. Measuring health: A guide to rating scales and questionnaires. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006.

Zou KH, Tuncall K, Silverman SG. Correlation and simple linear regression. Radiology. 2003;227(3):617-22.

Lahey B. Public Health Significance of Neuroticism. Am Psychol. 2009;64(4):241-56.

Spector PE, Jex SM, Chen PY. Relations of incumbent affect-related personality traits with incumbent and objective measures of characteristics of jobs. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 1995;16(59-65).

Dunn LB, Iglewicz A, Moutier C. A conceptual model of medical student well-being: promoting resilience and preventing burnout. Academic Psychiatry. 2008;32(1):44-53.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5959/eimj.v10i1.587


  • There are currently no refbacks.

2180-1932 (C) Universiti Sains Malaysia Press, Universiti Sains Malaysia.