These 3 New Personality Types Describe How Easily You're Persuaded
Kelly Gonsalves is the sex and relationships editor at mindbodygreen. Her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.
How susceptible are you to persuasion? Some people might be more open to new information than others, and according to a new study published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal, some people are more easily persuaded depending on the context and who the information is coming from.
Researchers surveyed over 300 people to get a sense of their susceptibility to persuasion as well as their personality traits. When they analyzed the data, they identified three specific personality types that revealed the main ways people respond to persuasion: fearful, malevolent, and socially apt:
The researchers labeled this group as "fearful," but the better word is perhaps just anxious. These are the people who tend to be less extroverted, less comfortable in social situations, and perhaps even shy. People with this personality type tended to be more likely to be persuaded by authority figures and by the desire to follow the rest of the crowd.
These folks are more extroverted and tend to be more focused on themselves, and they can also be quite manipulative. Unlike the fearful type, people with so-called malevolent personalities weren't susceptible to being influenced or controlled by authority figures, and they were also unlikely to do something out of reciprocity to others. What did persuade them? Scarcity. They were compelled to act when they were led to believe there was something at stake that would not be available forever.
3. Socially apt
These are people who are generally friendly, extroverted, and conscientious. These affable and responsible personality types were most persuaded to do something when that action was consistent with their existing beliefs or with things they've already committed to do.
A path to better motivation.
Being "easily persuaded" sounds like a negative thing, but in fact, the researchers behind this study wanted to better understand persuasion not to point out what kind of people are most gullible but rather to find out what the best ways are to motivate different personality types.
"From this research, I'd like to develop a programme of research which utilizes personalized persuasive approaches encouraging young children to be proactive towards their own wellbeing,” said Helen Wall, lead author on the study and a psychology lecturer at Edge Hill University, in a news release. "Adopting a personalized approach that 'nudges' people towards taking positive action, I believe, is very important."
If you connected with any of the three personality types in particular ("fearful" and "malevolent" sound like disses, but I'm sure many of us can relate to being typically anxious or typically self-focused, neither of which are inherently bad qualities), consider using these insights to find more effective ways to create those better habits you know you probably need.
If you fall into that more anxious category, consider getting a mentor or coach or finding a class or support group to work toward your goals with—leadership and community might be particularly helpful for you. If you're that self-oriented type, time limits and deadlines might be good for you. If you fall into that socially apt category, make sure you know what your big-picture vision for life is—knowing your deeper purpose will make it a lot easier to make daily choices that will help you in the long run.