Personality and Daily Stress
The relation between personality and the day-to-day experience of stress is not well understood. In an attempt to shed some light on this issue, researchers at the University of Delaware and the University of Connecticut Health Center conducted a study to investigate the role of neuroticism, a personality trait, in daily stress. Neuroticism is the general tendency to feel negatively. Based on research in which neuroticism was found to be associated with major life events, the researchers in this study expected to find a corresponding association between neuroticism and daily functioning.
A total of 197 participants completed questionnaires at the end of each day over a period of 2 weeks. They also completed questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study. The questionnaires measured neuroticism, mood, stress, appraisal, and coping. The results showed that people who were high in neuroticism experienced more stressors in their interactions with others, perceived daily events more negatively, and made bad choices about which coping strategies to use.
This research helps explain why people who are high in neuroticism tend to feel so negatively. People who are high in neuroticism tend to experience more stress. It is unclear from this research, however, whether having higher levels of neuroticism causes people to experience more daily stress or whether more daily stress causes people to have higher levels of neuroticism.
Source: Gunthert, K. C., Cohen, L. H., & Armeli, S. (1999). The role of neuroticism in daily stress and coping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1087-1100.