Why are people obsessed with personality types

Passion or Obsession: The Difference Between Fan and Fanatic

They seem a little strange, sometimes scary: people who devote their free time or their entire life to a passion. Whether you are a record collector, a cactus grower or an extreme athlete: Every passion can become an obsession if the urge for it dominates life. Canadian researchers have now investigated the role that a person's personality plays in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences”.

Julien Dalpé's team from the Université du Québec in Montreal asked almost 300 adults between the ages of 19 and 70 online about their favorite pastime - an activity that they loved, that was important to them and that they invested a lot of time in. To do this, they were asked to answer twelve questions: Is the activity consistent with other areas of their life? Do you find it difficult to control the urge to do this activity? Furthermore, the participants rated themselves on all 30 facets of the Big Five, the five major dimensions of personality. Using a path model, the researchers used the information to calculate how the characteristics were related to the individual degree of passion and obsession.

The most typical characteristic of people with obsessions turned out to be emotional instability. Particularly typical for passionate people was conscientiousness, i.e. a sense of duty, self-discipline, carefulness and a love of order. Only the fifth facet of conscientiousness, the striving for achievement, was not related to a passion for a cause. Conscientiousness only promoted passion, not obsession. The same was true for the characteristic openness to new experiences, but not for the facets of fantasy and a sense of aesthetics. What both profiles - fan and fanatic - had in common was a slight tendency towards extraversion.

Obsessive characters are therefore not simply the negative reflection of people with moderate passions. Except for one point, compatibility: the more sociable a person, the more likely they are to cultivate a "healthy" passion, and the less sociable they are, the more likely they are to be driven by an obsession. "Certain personality traits lead people to develop different types of passion," the researchers believe. Other studies have shown that upbringing also plays a role; children would be more likely to develop a passion if their parents encouraged autonomy.