Although every person is different from one another, humans are divided into two major categories in terms of their behavior: extroverts and introverts. Extroverts are the outgoing, socially confident lot, while introverts are the shy, reticent, more conscientious lot. While introverts comparatively stay away from people, extroverts mingle with them easily.
Research and Results
A recent study conducted by Kavita Vedhara and her colleagues at the University of Nottingham, UK, had made 121 healthy students fill in a few personality questionnaires on five basic parameters: conscientiousness, extroversion, neuroticism, openness, and agreeableness. In this research, smoking, drinking, and exercising habits were taken into account. Blood samples were also taken to assess the activity of 19 different genes involved in the process of inflammatory response, as well as those genes involved in the production of antibodies and viral defense. The result showed that the inflammation-triggering genes in extroverts are 17 per cent more active than in introverts. Also, in students who scored high in conscientiousness, these genes were 16 per cent lower compared to less conscientious people. No evident differences were seen in the other genes associated with the immune system.
Our Mood And Our Immune System
It is a well-known fact that stress can make inflammatory genes more active and trigger a short-term boost against infections. However, it has been observed that our mood is influenced by the immune system. For example, “sickness behavior” is the tendency to become lethargic in response to infection. People show signs of withdrawal from the responses to infection during this phase.
Our Behavior And Our Immune System
The immune system influences behavior in a different way. The immune cells release a chemical called cytokine that that seems to be able to cross the barriers of blood and brain. This means that cytokines can interfere with brain cell activity. An example of this chemical reaction is the release of gamma interferon that reduces serotonin production. Due to this chemical reaction, people feel less sociable.
Conscientiousness And Our Immune System
There have been speculations that the immune system might also affect conscientiousness. Valerio Napolini at the Stanford University School of Medicine said, “In the course of evolution, humans have faced adaptive challenges caused by infectious diseases. In addition to the immune system, human behavior may also act as an anti-pathogen defense [by enhancing the survival of people with weaker immune systems].” Napolini also showed that the Americans who carry a variant of the ACP1 gene, a gene known to boost the ability of susceptibility to infections, are greater introverts than those who do not carry this gene. They have also proved to be less open to new experiences and thus, become less sociable in nature.
Another Speculation About Our Immune System
According to Daniel Davis, an immunologist, although conscientious and introverted people have weaker inflammatory responses, other areas of their immune system may be stronger compared to extroverts. Also, if extroverts are facing a greater risk of inflammation-related diseases, exercise and weight loss schedules can help them.
It is interesting to note how behavior and personality can be related to our genes and our immune systems. However, scientific studies are still going on, and no proper evidence has been found regarding the relation between our personality traits and our immune system. Since we have seen how mood, behavior, and conscience are related to our genes and immune system, we will not only be more aware of the different personalities around us, but we will also be less judgmental about people. To live a healthy life, a stronger immune system is of course necessary; however, the beauty lies in us being different from each other. Had we all been the same as each other, the world would surely have been a boring place to live in.