New research published in Personality and Individual Differences explored the correlation between maladaptive personality traits, love styles, levels of self-esteem, and loneliness. The personality traits included in the study are those identified as undesirable by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, including psychoticism, antagonism, disinhibition, negative affect, and detachment.
The study looked for the intersection of these and various love styles, including eros (passionate love), ludus (game-playing love), storge (platonic love), pragmatic (logical love), and mania (passive and dependent love). Finally, the research team investigated how those combinations may result in lower self-esteem and higher levels of loneliness.
The study’s results found that each personality trait was associated with lower self-esteem and higher levels of loneliness. In addition, each personality trait was found to correlate with the studied love styles.
Personality psychology has primarily focused on socially desirable traits like the Big Five and emotional intelligence, but interpersonal relationships are an essential aspect of human motivation. The significance of less desirable personality traits and their impact on social consequences is often overlooked. To address this gap, the research team sought to expand on previous research on how personality traits from the DSM affect interpersonal relationships.
The study involved 308 participants recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing platform. Participants completed a survey about personality and mating preferences. The study measured the Five Factor model of the DSM, social inclusion, and love styles using questionnaires such as the Personality Inventory for the 25-item DSM-5BF, the UCLA Loneliness Scale, the Self Esteem Scale, and the Love Styles scale.
Data analysis revealed that all personality traits were connected to one or more of the included love styles. For instance, those who exhibited detachment tended to have less of a ludus love style. At the same time, individuals displaying disinhibition, negative affect, and antagonism were more likely to have an agape love style. Additionally, the study confirmed that those with high levels of extraversion tended to exhibit a passionate eros love style. These findings are consistent with previous research in this area.
The findings emphasized that individuals with high levels of personality traits derived from DSM may face difficulties in being socially included, leading to feelings of isolation and rejection. Emotional and behavioral problems may contribute to this perception, and all personality traits were linked to low self-esteem and increased loneliness.
The results showed that different love styles helped to explain the relationships between specific personality traits and loneliness or self-esteem. Eros mediated the relationship between detachment and loneliness and detachment and self-esteem. Ludus mediated the relationship between several personality traits and loneliness. Storge mediated the relationship between detachment and self-esteem and psychoticism and self-esteem. Pragma mediated the relationship between several personality traits and self-esteem. Mania mediated the relationship between several personality traits and both loneliness and self-esteem.
“Ultimately, these people’s ‘bad behavior’ may create a negative feedback loop which perpetuates their loneliness and diminished self-esteem,” the researchers said.
The study also revealed some evidence indicating that the relationship between specific traits and love styles can be moderated by gender. Specifically, men tend to exhibit higher levels of disinhibition and negative affect, which correlate with the eros love style. On the other hand, men also have higher levels of detachment and negative affect, which are correlated with the ludus love style. The latter can lead to social rejection and lower self-esteem; the findings suggest that certain traits and love styles may be more common in men than women.
The study is limited by its small sample size the assessments used to measure personality, self-esteem, and loneliness were fairly short. In addition, the study’s cross-sectional design limits the conclusions that can be made from the data.
Despite its limitations, the research reproduced and expanded on earlier studies on the connection between the Five Factor traits from DSM and various aspects of relationship psychology, including social rejection as an outcome. “Being characterized by traits like antagonism may lead individuals to adopt love styles like game-playing (i.e., ludus) which may have consequences for their romantic success but also their sense of acceptance. We encourage future work looking at the interpersonal consequences of these traits to augment work on the traditional Big Five,” the researchers concluded.
The study, “Feeling low and lonely: Personality traits, love styles, and social rejection“, was authored by Małgorzata M. Michalska, Stanisław K. Czerwinski, Abigail H. Lowder, and Peter K. Jonason