[Solution]The Relationship between Stress and Personality

Abstract The objective of this paper is to explore the relationship between stress and personality. Stress has been cited as one of the factors determining…

The objective of this paper is to explore the relationship between stress and personality. Stress has been cited as one of the factors determining personality. Drawing information from books and journal articles, the paper investigates how exactly stress affects personality. It is found that while there is no doubt that personality is partly shaped by stress, the relationship between the variables is not fixed but varies across individuals. To some, stressful occurrences only make them more resilient and determined. To others, stress causes anxiety and depression, which may affect one’s temperament. In light of these mixed findings, the paper concludes that much as stress undoubtedly affects personality, additional studies are required to establish the true connection.
In a given social setting, people respond or react differently to events occurring to them. This diversity is attributed to personality differences, with the term ‘personality’ referring to the behaviors as well as traits exhibited by an individual when he or she is in a certain environment (Altman, Valenzi and Hodgetts, 2013). Personality differs greatly across people, and psychologists have attempted to identify the factors behind these differences. The general view is that personality is influenced by four sets of factors: genetics, environmental forces, situational factors, and cultural as well as social considerations (Altman et al., 2013). Pursuant to this categorization, this paper presents the thesis that stress is one of the influencers of personality.
Literature Review
Stress falls into the category of situational factors that determine personality. According to Altman et al. (2013), stressful occurrences such as divorce or death of friends or family members may affect one’s personality because they generative disruptive impacts. Supporting this argument, Shields, Toussaint and Slavich (2016, p.61) explain that “stress alters neural dynamics and precipitates disorders that shape personality traits involving negative affectivity”. In simple language, this means that when undergoes stressful happenings and does not receive timely counseling and care, he or she is likely to develop anxiety, which may turn into depression. When this happens, the individual may become withdrawn, cold and hostile towards others (Carere & Maestripieri, 2013). Clearly, the individual develops a new personality as a result of the stressors.
Contributing towards this debate, Dumitru and Cozman (2012) conducted a study aimed at investigating the relationship between stress and personality. The study was conducted among psychiatric nurses. In this study, it was found that nurses whose stress levels are high are generally reserved and are very prone to guilty feelings. More importantly, the study established an inverse relationship between stress perception and empathy together with social presence, especially among female nurses. These findings reinforce the view that stress has a negative impact on personality.
Although much of the available literature on stress and its impact on personality indicate a negative relationship, there are a few studies that suggest otherwise. Contrary to the perception that stress makes people withdrawn, harsh and unempathetic towards others, McGuigan, Sime and Wallace (2012) focus on the aggressive type of people who view stressful, challenging situations as opportunities to better themselves. These authors are of the opinion that the negative impact on personality is exhibited by people who are vulnerable to stress; there are stress-resistant people who remain unshakable, adventurous and tough amid stress.
This paper predominantly uses secondary data to make conclusions regarding the connection between stress and personality. Findings from past studies, as recorded in journals and books, are the key source of data.
 Major limitation of this project is that it exclusively relied on secondary data. No interviews or observations were conducted on a sample population in order to corroborate the conclusions made by other researchers. This is a serious limitation especially when it is considered that primary data is considered more valid than secondary data (Simoni, 2011).
The limitation outlined above notwithstanding, this project contributes greatly towards understanding why people behave differently when faced with identical solutions. More precisely, it validates the hypothesis that stress is one of the determinants of personality. However, the paper does not inform a definitive conclusion as to whether the relationship between the two variables is positive or negative. That notwithstanding, it does confirm that personality is influenced by stress, among other factors.
This paper contributes to the debate on the link between personality and stress. Drawing on views and findings made by previous researchers, the paper establishes that the two variables are related, although the relationship is not definitive. For some people, stress makes them more resilient while others are negatively affected and can become withdrawn and hostile. In reference to this dilemma, it is proposed that additional studies be done, preferably using primary data, to establish exactly the kind of impact that stress generates on personality.
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Altman, S., Valenzi, E., & Hodgetts, R. M. (2013). Organizational Behavior: Theory and Practice. Burlington: Elsevier Science.
Carere, C., & Maestripieri, D. (2013). Animal personalities: Behavior, physiology, and evolution. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Dumitru, V. M., & Cozman, D. (2012). The relationship between stress and personality factors. Human and Veterinary Medicine, 4(1), 34-39.
McGuigan, F. J., Sime, W. E., & Wallace, J. M. (2012). Stress and Tension Control 3: Stress Management. Boston, MA: Springer US.
Shields, G. S., Toussaint, L. L., & Slavich, G. M. (2016). Stress-related changes in personality: A longitudinal study of perceived stress and trait pessimism. Journal of Research in Personality, 64, 61-68.
Simoni, M. C. (2011). A decision model for real estate portfolio valuation and optimisation: Under consideration of real estate physical characteristics. Bern: Haupt.

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