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Gender Can Determine Response to Illness

Gender and personality are crucial in how people cope with physical and mental illness, according to a new paper.

Researchers from Washington State University and the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, found that while men are less affected by a single-symptom illness, they are more affected by illnesses with a few symptoms.

Robert Rosenman, WSU professor in the Department of Economic Sciences, also said that personality affects how women handle becoming sick, while men of all types react the same.”

The research is based on data collected in the British Household Panel Survey, which included 2,859 people: 1,471 men and 1,388 women.

According to a news release from WSU, the survey asked people about their happiness and satisfaction with life. It also asked about their physical and mental health and about their personalities. The researchers found, the news release said, that women with one of two distinct personality types are less affected by mental illness than all other personality types.

The first personality type, high levels of agreeableness, experience high quality relationships in their lives. The second type, women with low levels of conscientiousness, have little need for achievement, order or persistence.

Rosenman said women with high agreeableness likely have better social networks and therefore more support for coping with mental illness. But women of the second type are more likely to feel out of control all the time, so they probably don’t feel any impact from a mental illness.

The study finds no correlation between personality type and the impact of a mental illness in men.

The paper was published in the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics.

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