Are People in the Entertainment Industry More Prone to Personality Disorders?

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Kim K

According to Psychology Today, our choice of careers reflects our personality – vocational theorist John Holland believes that our career reflects highs and lows of 6 different personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. They state that if we are able to find a career that matches well with our personality, we have reached “congruence”. Several sources are questioning the personality traits of those in the entertainment industry. What is it about them that makes actors so successful?

A study co-authored by actor Mark Davidson and led by psychologist Adrian Furnham from the University College of London found that “both male and female actors scored significantly higher than non-actors on antisocial, narcissism, histrionic, borderline and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders”. The research study involved 214 actors and compared their personality traits to non-actors. Traits such as being attention-seeking, unstable, self-loving and impulsive arose from the findings. Furthermore, male actors were found to have more dependent and avoidant personality traits as well. Does this mean actors have “bad” personalities? Not hardly.

The study further noted that qualities found in actors benefit them for their career – for example, narcissistic traits give actors the confidence to get followers on social media and gain traction in the public eye. Obsessive-compulsive traits may help them reach deadlines and memorize scripts. Impulsivity means that a person may risk a lot for a role or opportunity, but they could also gain a lot because of those risks.

It’s a common stereotype that narcissism is negative, but narcissism runs on a spectrum and it only because harmful if it’s involving apathy regarding other’s safety, health, happiness, etc. A healthy form of narcissism is what helps us succeed in job interviews, dress well for social occasions, etc.

One shortcoming of the study could be due to the fact that the actors self-reported their emotions for analysis. Actors are in the realm of expression and interpretation, which could mean they may have connected deeper with what is considered more “negative” traits than “positive” ones. There are a number of reasons why actors may experience more traits related to personality disorders than others. What’s most important, however, is that no matter who you are, you seek help if it’s needed. There are many resources available to ensure you develop the tools you need to lead a happy life.

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