Summary: Study reveals our personality types may indicate how susceptible we are to the power of persuasion. Those who are more fearful tend to follow the crowd, while those whose personality traits fall into the dark triad are less likely to be influenced by authority figures. Those who are socially apt are more likely to be persuaded to do something it is consistent with their beliefs or prior actions.
Source: Edge Hill University
Researchers at Edge Hill University in England have helped identify personality traits which make people more (or less) susceptible to persuasion than others.
Senior Lecturer in Psychology Dr Helen Wall and colleagues Dr Linda Kaye and Dr Andy Levy carried out the research with academics at Ulster University and the University of New England, Australia.
They asked 316 people to complete online questionnaires revealing their personality traits and how easily they might be persuaded.
From this, they identified three main personality profiles which they named Fearful, Malevolent and Socially Apt.
They found Fearful people who are typically shy, socially inhibited and anxious were more likely to follow the crowd and be persuaded to do something by people in authority.
Those with a more extrovert, self-orientated and manipulative personality (Malevolent profile) were less likely to be influenced by authority figures, less willing to return a favour and more likely to be persuaded if something was only available for a limited time.
Lastly, they found that agreeable, extroverted and conscientiousness Socially Apt people were more likely to be persuaded to do something if it helps maintain their commitment to something they’ve done before.
Dr Linda Kaye, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, said: “Rather than looking at personality traits in isolation we looked at the Big-5, Dark Triad and Type D Personality scales together, and in relation to Cialdini’s model of persuasion.
“This helped us create more accurate personality profiles, so we could then predict a person’s likelihood to do something and how easily they could be persuaded.”
Dr Helen Wall, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, said: “I’m very passionate about the need to encourage a proactive approach to children’s mental health and wellbeing.
“From this research, I’d like to develop a programme of research which utilises personalised persuasive approaches encouraging young children to be proactive towards their own wellbeing.”
“Adopting a personalised approach that ‘nudges’ people towards taking positive action, I believe, is very important.”
Dr Andy Levy, Reader in Psychology, said: “Our study sheds some light on how combining personality characteristics can influence human persuasion.
Personality profiles and persuasion: An exploratory study investigating the role of the Big-5, Type D personality and the Dark Triad on susceptibility to persuasion
The present study investigated the relationship between personality profiles and susceptibility to persuasion. Participants (N = 316) were recruited for an online questionnaire and asked to complete self-reported measures of their personality – Big-5, Dark Triad and Type D. Individual differences in susceptibility to persuasion were also explored using Cialdini’s model of persuasion. Latent profile analysis identified three distinct profiles which were labelled Socially Apt, Fearful and Malevolent. These profiles were correlated with scores on the persuasion subscales – authority, commitment, liking, scarcity, reciprocity, consensus – and a number of interesting associations were identified. The malevolent profile self-reported as more susceptible to a higher use of scarcity relative to the other principles of persuasion, and was least susceptible to reciprocity and authority. The socially apt profile appear to be more inclined to be persuaded to do something if it is consistent with their beliefs or a prior act whereas individuals in the Fearful profile were more likely to report obeying those in authority and going along with a crowd. Implications for persuasion are discussed along with research on personality types.