Or is it inborn?or BOTH? – Researchers have defined 5 basic components of personality: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to new ideas and experiences (and love of pets?) These can be measured with questionnaires.

In Newsweek, Sharon Begley reports on the research of Jason Rentfrow, who claims that there is a belt of “neuroticism” across the middle of the US continent, dividing the East and West, with Maine scoring the highest and Louisiana and the West lowest. When it comes to openness (the willingness to embrace new ideas and creativity), people in the Northeast and West Coast score much higher than the Midwest and South. Most extroverts live in the Great Plains, Midwest and Southeast, with the fewest of them in the Northwest and Northeast.

If you want to meet agreeable people (or are one), go to the Midwest and Southeast, but avoid the Northeast. For conscientiousness, go South and to the Midwest, but avoid the Northeast. Alaskans rank last in agreeableness and conscientiousness, which may be why they left the lower 48 in the first place. North Dakotans rank highest on extroversion and agreeableness but last in openness. The people in Utah are the least neurotic, perhaps because being Mormon keeps them calm (a preponderance of FBI agents are Mormons).

If you’re male, and the gloomy type, watch out for antidepressants. We know that pesticides can cause infertility. Now it turns out antidepressants can cause this too.

Drugs such as Paxil, which are taken by millions of men to help depression, may affect their fertility. BBC News quotes psychologist Andrew McCulloch, of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Most medications carry some level of risk, and antidepressants are no different. They are powerful drugs, so in a sense it is no surprise that research is discovering more about their impact on the body.”

BBC quotes psychologist Marjorie Wallace as saying, “While these results may be worrying for people taking antidepressants who hope to conceive, it is important to note that this is a preliminary study with a small sample group. We would be worried if this study caused patients to stop their treatment and would urge anyone with concerns to consult their doctor. Antidepressants can be a lifeline for many people, and the risk of relapse must be borne in mind in balancing the risks and benefits of these drugs.”

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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