In a world with instant access to an infinite amount of information, do you have common sense?
- Eat fruits and vegetables?
- Engage in habits that are good for you?
Conscientiousness equals common sense
Abernathy, the Mary-Charlotte Bayles Shealy Chair in Conscientious Psychology at Missouri State University, was a trusted source in the recently released book, “Recovering Common Sense: Conscientious Health Care for the 21st Century,” written by Shealy, the father of holistic medicine.
In her research, Abernathy identified the defining traits of conscientiousness:
After being recruited to contribute to Shealy’s book, Abernathy discovered the undeniable link between common sense and the conscientious personality type.
Her findings also provide hope for people who aren’t naturally conscientious.
Can you change your personality?
Surprisingly, yes, you can change your personality, noted Abernathy. However, it is no small feat.
“There’s a huge genetic component to personality traits,” Abernathy said. “A lot of people think that we cannot change our personalities because it is part of us. But genetics are only responsible for 20-60%, depending on the trait.
“In a lot of ways, we are cubby holed by our genes. But there’s always wiggle room. That’s what we wanted to prove.”
Abernathy performed studies on subjects to determine two methods of changing personality.
The first method focused on trying to change personality within subjects. Most individuals selected to create small goals, like trying one new thing every week, and eventually establishing habits.
Conscientiousness increased because the subjects had to plan and consistently meet their goals.
The second method focused on behavioral activation by using checklists and a reward system for subjects.
Subjects were able to improve their conscientiousness by staying committed to the study and their goals.
Changing for the better
Abernathy said statistically, it is possible for people to change their personalities for the better.
“If you want to be more agreeable, then withdraw from the fight. If you want to be more conscientious, intentionally take care of yourself in ways that we all understand,” Abernathy added.
“Be aware of your personality and then complete the necessary steps to improve upon it. If you persevere, then your personality can change slightly.”