In a recent study published in the Journal of Personality it was determined that hearing loss among older adults leaves a deep impact on their personality.
The researchers studied 400 people in the age group of 80-98 over a period of six years. The team investigated a change in two personality traits:
- Extraversion – Extraversion is defined as being sociable, assertive, emotionally expressive and excitable. People who are high in this trait are often described as being outgoing and talkative, while those low in this trait are described as quiet and reserved.
- Neuroticism – Neuroticism is a fundamental personality trait in the study of psychology characterized by anxiety, moodiness, worry, envy, and jealousy.
Their goal was to assess whether they could predict health related changes in personality from a life span developmental perspective.
The results demonstrated that even if the emotional stability of the individual remained constant over a period of time, the participants became less outgoing.
The researchers were not able to connect the observed changes to physical and cognitive impairments or to age-related difficulties finding social activities. The only factor that could be linked to reduced extraversion was hearing loss.
Anne Ingeborg Berg, the lead researcher from the study noted the following,
“This is the first time a link between hearing and personality changes has been established in longitudinal studies. Hearing loss directly affects the quality of social situations….we can guess that the link between hearing loss and social withdrawal forms a potential threat to older people’s wellbeing.”