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article imagePlayfully inclined people have a societal advantage

By Tim Sandle     May 7, 2017 in Science
There are several different personality types and psychologists regularly debate precisely how many types there are. Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg researchers say ‘playfulness’ should added and this trait confers a social advantage.
The psychologists make the case that adults can positively utilize an inclination towards playfulness to their advantage in a range of social situations. People with this personality disposition are very good at observing; they can also readily perceive things from new and different perspectives; moreover, they can quickly turn a seemingly monotonous task into something far more interesting.
In terms of what ‘playfulness’ is and is not, the researchers state, it should not be seen as something akin to humor. Instead playfulness is a positive approach to life, where something entertaining is gleaned from almost every situation. Here playfulness is something different to descriptions of playfulness in children. The psychologists behind the new research argue that playfulness is, in fact, a different type of personality type; one that challenges current clustering of personality types and thus a trait that should be investigated further. The wrong approach, the principal researcher Dr René Proyer states, is to try to transpose a model of childhood onto adults. This is because seeing playful adult and a playful child as similar downplays the complexity of adult behavior and relationships, such as adults forming romantic relationships or in relation of an adult’s intellect.
A further advantage of the ‘playful’ personality type is being able to experience everyday situations as positive and entertaining. This approach seems to be able to reduce stress levels. Such people are more inclined to view life as a form of game. This is either through direct experience of at the level of creativity and ideas. Overall playfulness is presented in the research as a positive trait.
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To derive that this personality type, Dr. Proyer looked into a host of different personality surveys conducted over many years. In all the profiles of 3,000 people were included in the study data set From this the researcher makes a claim that playfulness is a new personality type, separate to the five major personality types. The five factors have been defined as openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
In a research note Dr. Proyer states: "Playfulness is an independent personality trait that shares certain aspects with these five global dimensions but which cannot be interchanged.” This is a statement that might not be accepted by all psychologists.
The research has been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. The research paper is under the title “A new structural model for the study of adult playfulness: Assessment and exploration of an understudied individual differences variable.”
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