Are you one of those people who gets lost in competition? When a game or contest is heating up, do you find yourself getting more intense about finishing on top? So much so, you can become kind of agro? Kind of hostile?
If you that sounds like you, new research from University of Cordoba suggests that you might be more susceptible to drug use than your non-competitive, more-agreeable peers. But don’t worry, it isn’t your fault, it’s literally just a personality trait.
Which, if their correlation is accurate, is valuable information. Up until now drug use has been understood as a function of someone’s personal experiences, family history and social settings. But this new research might indicate that personality traits like competitiveness and hostility can also contribute to a person’s substance habits.
For the study, researchers had 3,816 young people from Spain fill out socio-demographic and personality questionnaires. The researchers pulled their observations from that sample.
“Specific personality profiles were identified which constitute either a risk factor or a protective factor for substance abuse,” the study, Personality profiles and how they relate to drug consumption among young people in Spain, concludes in its abstract. “These results will prove useful to drug consumption prevention and treatment programs focused on the above-mentioned personality profiles.”
So, if you are a competitive and/or hostile person, you may be more inclined to use drugs. And likewise, patient, more agreeable, non-competitive individuals are less likely to engage in that kind of deviant behavior. It’s an observation reminiscent of Hunter Thompson’s LSD bathroom flashback from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
“This kind of personality is a protective factor for drug consumption and is especially meaningful in the case of alcohol and tobacco,” says Rosario Ruiz Olivares, one of the study’s lead researchers. Olivares remains adamant, though, that, “what we could call an ‘addictive personality’ does not exist."
These findings make sense on a certain level, but also seem like a significant generalization — a causation derived from correlation. Certain drugs like mushrooms or weed might appeal more to a more timid, introverted person, while drugs like coke, alcohol and tobacco might be the drugs of choice for more competitive individuals. Different personality traits, might correlate to different forms of drug use. But that wasn’t part of this study.
So, while this paper hints at a profound association between personality traits and drug use, it leaves a lot of room for further research.
“There are still many questions to answer but what we discovered is very significant," admits Olivares. She explains that the next time they do this study, the researchers plan on expanding the sample size to encompass more people from a greater geographic area.
This revelation, while still pretty generalized, could open up an entirely new area of research: What personality traits make a coke fiend tick? What kinds of people are more likely to jump on Ken Kesey’s Further bus and trip off into the nevermore? Why do wooks wook?
The answers to these questions remain elusive — for now, at least. But thanks to this study from Spain, we’re one step closer to getting to the bottom of them.