Can Neuroticism be Good?

Take a moment, loyal reader, to think of all the things that might go wrong today. You might make an egregious mistake at work. The mistake might get you fired. The ensuing depression that follows may inspire your spouse to leave you. Your kids could subsequently lose all respect for you and cut off contact when you hit bankruptcy. Soon after your parents could simultaneously be diagnosed with cancer and you won’t have the resources to help them.

And it will all be because the printer jammed at a watershed moment and you turned up 10 minutes late to the annual performance meeting with your company’s shareholders. We’re all guilty of it to some degree; worrying and overthinking things just comes naturally to many of us, much like breathing or justifying that third slice of pecan pie. Called neuroticism, this personality trait is characterized by qualities like anxiety, fear, worry and frustration. But what to make of recent research that shows that anxiety and worrying are correlated with creativity? Could it be that an otherwise unattractive trait such as neuroticism has its upside?

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