Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Personality Correlates of Health Outcomes in Sudanese University Students

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Personality Correlates of Health Outcomes in Sudanese University Students

Article excerpt

Individual differences play a salient and vital role in the person's responses to different Stressors. Hence, various individuals are expected to differ in health outcome resulting from encountering stressful situations. This study aimed at identifying personality traits in Sudanese university students and investigating the nature of the relationship between these traits and psychological disturbances measured by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ28- item version, Goldberg & Williams, 1991). The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQR, 48 items, Eysenck, Eysenck, & Barrett, 1985) was used to assess personality traits. One hundred psychology students (mean age 23.7) participated in the study. The majority (80%) of the students were females. The results revealed a strong positive relationship between neuroticism (N) on one hand and somatic symptoms, anxiety and depression on the other hand. Extraversion (E) was negatively related to anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms and social dysfunction. No significant sex or age difference was found in psychological disturbances measured by the GHQ or in personality traits - apart from a positive association between E and age. Unlike studies carried out in other countries which showed females to be more anxious and more neurotic, the present study did not find sex differences in anxiety and neuroticism. When a cutoff point of 4 was used, 20% of the students were classified as psychiatric cases. This may indicate the widespread prevalence of psychological disorders amongst Sudanese university students.

Sudan has been undergoing rapid economic and social changes in the last two decades. These changes may negatively affect a considerable portion of students and other sectors of the society. Before 1989 free university education and accommodation were granted to most university students. The abolition of this system put most university students and their families under immense pressure. Many students have found themselves struggling to secure financial support for their studies which means that they have to work while studying. This situation represents a potential source of stress that may result in various health problems. This study aims to identify the presence and levels of some psychological disturbances and personality factors associated with them in Sudanese university students.

Personality traits may play a vital role in distress and health in general. It is believed that they moderate the relationship between stress and health by restraining or promoting the effects of stress (Ranchor & Sanderman, 1991); they affect the way individuals perceive stress and their strategies for coping with it (Chung, Easthope, Farmer, Werrett, & Chung, 2003). Personality differences also lead to differences in emotional responses to different Stressors (Lazarus & Folkman, 1987). Krohne (1990) argued that personality has two functional roles: providing elaborated prediction design, and clarifying how different individuals vary in reaction to stressful situations.

Eysenck's theory of personality is regarded as one of the main systems in which human personality is conceptualized (Pervin, 1993). he identified three personality traits, namely neuroticism (N), extraversion (E), and psychoticism (P). Eysenck views personality as being largely innate and genetically determined. N, E and P are believed to have partially hereditary and partially physiological bases. Variation in N is based on activation thresholds in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems or visceral brain. This portion of the brain is responsible for the "fight-flight" response when confronting fear. Eysenck believes that extraverts are extremely bored and underaroused and are, therefore, continuously seeking external stimulation (Pervin, 1993). The E dimension is identified with variation in levels of activity in the "cortico-reticular loop" with introverts having greater activity and greater chronic cortical arousal (Eysenck, 1990). …

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