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Towards a Psychology of Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness has been identified as the single most essential personality trait for health and longevity. Conscientiousness accounts for 75% of good health and longevity, and genetics is the major determinant of the other 25%. There are thousands of studies of the importance of conscientiousness but none that I have located on how to enhance conscientiousness. Now is the time to begin the development of the psychology of conscientiousness.

Conscientious individuals tend to focus on:

  • Organization
  • Preparedness
  • Order
  • Efficiency
  • Discipline

Obviously excessive or compulsive potentials exist for these traits, and some aspects appear to be inherent. There are no known studies on astrological influences on conscientiousness, whether parent personalities have a strong influence on conscientiousness, IQ of conscientious individuals, major social influences on conscientiousness, effects of nutrition, exercise, or any specific tools to enhance conscientiousness.

Now is the time to start exploring questions about how conscientiousness can be increased and lay the groundwork for the psychology of conscientiousness. A reasonable place to start with this research is to examine how children are raised.

Specifically, can conscientiousness be increased with:

  • Education
  • Role models
  • Self-Regulation
  • Encouragement
  • Rewards
  • Punishment
  • Self-esteem enhancement

We also do not know the neurochemistry of conscientiousness individuals:

  • Serotonin
  • Beta endorphin
  • Dopamine
  • Oxytocin
  • Norepinephrine/catecholamines
  • Neurotensin

 

I believe that poor self-esteem is likely in those who are less conscientious and that oxytocin enhancement may be of great assistance but that remains to be proven.

The NEO (a psychological personality inventory) considers the following to be part of conscientiousness:

Self-Efficacy.

Self-Efficacy describes confidence in one’s ability to accomplish things. High scorers believe they have the intelligence (common sense), drive, and self-control necessary for achieving success. Low scorers do not feel effective and may have a sense that they are not in control of their lives.

Orderliness.

Persons with high scores on orderliness are well-organized. They like to live according to routines and schedules. They keep lists and make plans. Low scorers tend to be disorganized and scattered.

Dutifulness.

This scale reflects the strength of a person’s sense of duty and obligation. Those who score high on this scale have a strong sense of moral obligation. Low scorers find contracts, rules, and regulations overly confining. Others tend to see these low scorers as unreliable or even irresponsible.

Achievement-Striving.

Individuals scoring high strive hard to achieve excellence. Their drive for recognition as being successful keeps them on track toward their lofty goals. They often have a strong sense of direction in life. Those with extremely high scores may be too single-minded and obsessed with their work. Low scorers are content to get by with a minimal amount of work and others might see them as lazy.

Self-Discipline.

Self-discipline – also called willpower – refers to a person’s ability to persist at difficult/unpleasant tasks until they have completed them. People who possess high self-discipline are able to overcome reluctance to begin tasks and stay on track despite distractions. Those with low self-discipline procrastinate and show poor follow-through, often failing to complete tasks-even tasks they want very much to complete.

Cautiousness.

Cautiousness describes a disposition to think through possibilities before acting. High scorers on the Cautiousness scale take their time when making decisions. Low scorers often say or do the first thing that comes to mind without deliberating alternatives and the probable consequences of those alternatives.

There is a wealth of opportunity to begin moving toward the development of a psychology of conscientiousness. Doing so would enable all of us to better understand how to be happy and live well.

Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D. is the father of holistic medicine. He recommends autogenic focus (the basis of the Biogenics System) as part of your overall commitment to self-health. Register to download your FREE autogenic focus MP3 now.