How is your personality linked to the way you write stories?

By Amy Matthews

My placement was at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. We have been investigating whether there is a link between personality traits and the way people add emotion to neutral stimulus.

We investigated this by recruiting participants who would be the writers of stories about neutral words; before they began to write stories they were given the Big 5 Inventory personality test. This tested participants on the five main personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The participants were told to work with the first idea for a story that came to them and that the stories had to be at least three lines long.

A second group of participants were also recruited who would rate these stories for creativity, arousal and emotional valence. This group of participants were given 25 randomised stories written by the other group of participants; however they did not know that they were written by previous participants.


In our results we found a surprising link between openness and creativity, open people are usually more curious, original and open to new ideas. However our results found that more open people wrote less creative stories. An explanation for this is that more open people are open in real life situations rather than in fiction, whereas less open people are not creative in real-life so they compensate for it in fiction.


Also from our results we found that as expected, the participants rated highly for neuroticism wrote more unhappy stories. People who are rated highly for neuroticism are more anxious, irritable and temperamental. This means that the stories that they wrote were more unpleasant than other participants, showing that there is a link between neuroticism and creating negative stories from neutral words.


Overall, there is a link between personality traits and people’s perception of neutral words as two traits showed a strong link, however not all personality traits were reflected in how people wrote stories about neutral words.