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塑造我们性格特质的隐藏因素

更新时间:2018-3-8 19:54:24 来源:千亿千亿国际娱乐官网 作者:佚名

The hidden side to your personality
塑造我们性格特质的隐藏因素

We usually think of personality in terms of the differences we can see – Sarah is smiley and chatty, John frets a lot, while Noah is neat and tidy. These differences are fascinating, but if we focus only on observable behaviour, it doesn’t tell us much about the roots of personality.

我们通常用可以观察到的差异来界定他人的性格——萨拉友善而健谈,约翰总是烦躁不安,而诺亚则喜欢干净整洁。这些差异令人好奇,但倘若我们只关注这些可见的行为,就不能弄清楚人格个性的根源。

Looking inside our body gives greater clues. And a trickle of recent findings has recently turned into a torrent, as studies are now revealing how personality is linked with many aspects of our biology, from our hormones and our immune system to the microbes in our gut.

深入观察我们的身体能够为此提供更多的线索。最近的一系列研究发现已汇成了一股洪流,因为这些研究正揭示出人格是如何与我们在生物学上的诸多方面紧密联系在一起的,从我们的激素、我们的免疫系统到我们肠道内的微生物。

These are important discoveries because personality – especially the traits of conscientiousness and neuroticism – is strongly associated with our future mental and physical health and longevity. Uncovering the physiological basis of personality might help explain why.

这些发现非常重要,因为人格——尤其是关于责任心和神经质的特征——与我们未来的身心健康以及寿命都密切关联。揭示人格的生理基础可能有助于解释原因。

Some of the founding fathers of the psychology of personality wondered about this very question. Writing in 1961, the US psychologist Gordon Allport said he had faith that “sometime in the distant future, well-proved facts concerning personality will be found to interlock with well-proved facts of human biology,” but he acknowledged that biology had a lot of catching up to do.

人格心理学的部分开创者对这一课题颇为好奇。美国心理学家戈顿·奥珀特(Gordon Allport)在1961年写道,他相信"在遥远未来的某个时刻,人们会发现,诸多得到充分证实的关于人格的事实与关于人类生理的事实是紧密相连的"。但他也表示,在这一方面,生物学还任重道远。

Later the same decade, the German-born English psychologist Hans Eysenck went further, publishing the Biological Basis of Personality– a tentative map, as he saw it, for grounding psychology in physiology. In 1987, he reflected that his own research with twins had shown that personality has a genetic basis and that, “if this was so, then surely it should be reflected in certain physiological structures, biochemical secretions, and other biological features of the organisms…”.

在20世纪60年代末,德国出生的英国心理学家汉斯·艾森克(Hans Eysenck)更进一步,出版了《人格的生物学基础》(Biological Basis of Personality)——对此,他将此视为一幅探索性的地图,用以理解生理学作为基础对心理学的意义。1987年,他想到了自己对双胞胎的研究表明人格有源自基因的基础,"而如果是这样,那么它也应该反映在特定的生理学结构上、生物化学分泌物中,以及器官的其他生物特征中……"

Eysenck and others believed that our personality largely comes from arousal levels in the brain and their ideas centred on differences between introverts and extroverts. They would have been amazed and delighted at our recent understanding of how personality gets under our skin.

艾森克和其他人认为,我们的个性很大程度上源于大脑被唤醒的水平,他们的想法主要关注于内向者和外向者之间的差异。倘若穿越时空,这些前辈目睹了近期我们对于生理机能如何影响个性的最新理解,他们一定会倍感兴奋和悦然。

Take the hormone cortisol, which is released when we get stressed. Early research linking cortisol and personality produced inconsistent results. But these studies relied on taking occasional saliva swabs, which isn’t ideal because cortisol levels fluctuate so much throughout the course of a single day, let alone over weeks and months. However, a study published late in 2017 overcame this problem by analysing cortisol levels in the hair of over 2,000 participants, who also completed personality questionnaires. The researchers cut off 3cm of hair from each volunteer, which provided a measure of cortisol that had accumulated over the last three months.

以皮质醇这种激素为例,当我们感到压力时,它就会释放出来。早期研究对皮质醇和人格的联系产生了不一致的结果。但这些研究依赖于偶尔的唾液试纸测试,而这并不理想,因为在一天中,皮质醇水平的波动非常大,更不用说相隔数周和数月之久了。通过对2000多名参与者的皮质醇水平进行分析,2017年晚些时候发表的一项研究克服了这一问题,而这些参与者也完成了人格问卷。研究人员从每个志愿者头上剪下3厘米长的头发,从而为过去三个月里累积的皮质醇提供了测量值。

The higher that participants scored on the trait of conscientiousness (which is associated with self-discipline, orderliness and ambition), the lower the levels of cortisol in their hair. Importantly, the researchers also recorded how healthy participants were, looking at their diet, exercise and alcohol intake. Conscientiousness correlated with healthier scores on all these measures, which makes sense, but importantly the link between hair cortisol and conscientiousness remained, even after factoring out differences in these health-related behaviours.

参与者在其责任心(与他们的自律性、秩序感和志向相关)的特征上得分越高,他们头发中的皮质醇水平则越低。重要的是,研究人员还记录了参与者的健康状况,包括他们的饮食、运动和饮酒情况。而责任心越高的人,在这些方面的得分也说明他们更为健康,这也是理所当然的,但更为重要的是,即使剔除了这些与健康相关的行为差异,头发中的皮质醇含量依然与参与者表现出来的责任心存在关联。

This study therefore provides early evidence that highly conscientious people are also less likely to be stressed. That is, they don’t just have lower cortisol levels because they lead a healthier life, but also because at a basic physiological level they are less sensitive to stress, which might contribute to their living longer, healthier lives than others, on average.

因此,这项研究提供了早期的证据,证明了高度尽责的人也可能较少受到压力的影响。也就是说,他们不仅是因为生活方式更为健康而拥有较低的皮质醇激素水平,也因为在基本的心生理水平上,他们对压力较不敏感。和其他人群相比,这可能会使他们从整体来说更为长寿和健康。

There’s another personality trait that’s strongly related to health: neuroticism. People who score highly on this trait are prone to anger, hostility, low moods and worry. They are also more at risk of poor physical health. New findings show how this might be reflected at a surprisingly deep level within their bodies, in the microbacteria that live in their gut. In another study published in 2017, researchers analysed DNA from 672 faecal samples, provided by volunteers who had also completed personality questionnaires. Even after controlling for differences in diet, the researchers found a small but significant association between higher scores on neuroticism and levels of Gammaproteobacteria, which include many pathogens.

还有另一种与健康密切相关的性格特征:神经质。这方面分值高的人易怒,容易产生敌对情绪、心情低落和焦虑,他们出现身体状况不佳的风险也更大。新近的研究结果表明,这样的特征竟然有可能会反映在他们体内的深处,即生活在他们肠道内的微生物中。在2017年发表的另一项研究中,研究人员分析了672份粪便样本中的DNA,这些样本由已完成人格问卷调查的志愿者提供。即使对饮食差异进行了干预,研究人员依然发现,在神经过敏症和γ‐变形菌纲这两项得分都较高的人群中存在着一个微妙但显著的联系,而γ‐变形菌纲则包含了许多病原体。

We often hear about “good” or “friendly” gut microbes and “bad” microbes for our physical and mental health. Gammaproteobacteria include potentially harmful bacteria that tend to fit in the latter category. Raised levels can also be a sign of chronic inflammation (acute inflammation helps the body cope with injury and infection, but chronic inflammation is harmful). Good microbes, in contrast, can contribute to health and are important for brain development. In this research, conscientiousness was also related to the microbiome – less conscientious participants tended to have lower levels of the “friendly” bacteria Lachnospiraceae, which can help prevent chronic inflammation and ensure the maintenance of a healthy weight.

关于我们的身心健康,我们经常听人提起"有益的"或"良性的"肠道微生物和"不良的"微生物。γ‐变形菌纲包含了某些潜在有害的细菌,往往可归于后者。其水平上升也可能是慢性炎症的表现(急性炎症有助于身体应对损伤和感染,但慢性炎症则是有害的)。相反,有益的微生物可以促进健康,对大脑发育也非常重要。这项研究发现,责任心也与微生物的组成相关,在参与实验的人群中,责任心得分较低的人群,其"良性的"细菌毛螺旋菌的数量也倾向于较低的水平,这类细菌可以帮助预防慢性炎症,并确保维持健康的体重。

That personality and the microbiome are linked could therefore help explain why people with a more neurotic, less conscientious personality are more vulnerable to illness than others.

因此,这种性格和微生物群之间的联系,有助于解释为什么那些性格较为神经质、缺乏责任心的人比其他人更容易生病。

The picture remains complicated, however, and these new studies are only preliminary. We cannot yet clearly identify what comes first – does personality affect the microbacteria in the gut, or vice versa? However, we do know that the two are linked very early in life: a 2015 study found that various characteristics of the gut microbacteria correlate with temperament in toddlers aged just 18-27 months. For example, among boys and girls, those who were rated as happier and more active by their mothers, which is a sign of toddler extraversion, also tended to have more diverse gut bacteria, which is good for health, and this wasn’t entirely due to differences in their diet.

然而,情况依然复杂,而这些新的研究也依然停留在初步阶段。我们还不能很清楚地确定到底孰先孰后——是性格首先影响肠道中的微生物,还是反过来?不过,我们知道这两者在生命早期的时候就有关联:2015年的一项研究发现,肠道微生物的各种特征与18-27个月龄幼儿的性情有关。例如,在男孩和女孩中,那些被母亲认为更快乐、更活泼的宝宝,即幼儿期外向性的标志,其体内也倾向于存在更多样化的肠道菌群,这对健康有益,但却并不完全是由于他们在饮食上的差异造成的。

Other markers of chronic inflammation in the body also relate to personality. A 2014 study of over 26,000 people found that individuals who scored high for conscientiousness also produced lower levels of certain proteins released by the immune system to fight disease, including C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, as measured by blood sample. Higher openness (associated with a willingness to try new things and aesthetic sensitivity) was also correlated with lower C-reactive protein. The researchers believe the latter association might be because open-minded individuals tend to lead more active, intellectually varied lifestyles, which in turn, helps reduce their systematic inflammation.

人体内的其他慢性炎症标志物也与人格有关。2014年对26,000多人进行的一项研究发现,在认真程度上得分较高的人,在他们的血液样本中检测出的免疫系统所释放的某些蛋白质水平则较低,包括C-反应蛋白和白细胞介素-6。而其心理上更高的开放性(与乐于尝试新事物和审美敏感性相关)也与较低的C-反应蛋白相关。研究人员认为,后面这种相关性可能是因为思想开放的人在生活方式上倾向于更活跃、更能启迪智慧的状态,而这也有助于降低他们患上系统性炎症的几率。

Of course, few of us spend much time worrying about our microbiome or C-reactive protein levels. However, aspects of our bodies that we are much more familiar with, including our blood pressure and heart rate, are also associated with personality. For instance, a study published in 2017 of over 5,000 British 50-year-olds, found that those with hypertension were more likely to score highly on neurotic traits and low on conscientiousness, highlighting another route by which these traits may influence physical health.

当然,我们中很少有人会耗费精力来担心我们的微生物组成或C-反应蛋白水平。然而,我们更为熟悉的各项身体指数,包括血压和心率,也与性格有关。例如,在2017年发表的一项研究中,以超过5000名50岁以上的英国人作为样本,发现那些有高血压的人更有可能在神经质特征上数值甚高,而在责任心上得分较低,显示出性格特征可能影响身体健康的有一种途径。

Meanwhile, although a low-resting heartbeat is usually considered a sign of good physical health, when it comes to personality, the implications are darker. Several studies have found that a lower resting heart rate correlates with higher psychopathy scores. People who match this description show superficial charm, fearlessness and impulsivity. This is not too surprising considering studies already link low-resting heart rate with aggressive and criminal behaviour. The two main explanations are that low heart rate is a sign of fearlessness and that it can reflect an unpleasant state of being “under aroused”, prompting some psychopathic people to seek relief through violence and conflict. As ever, more research is needed to test these ideas.

同时,虽然心率较低通常被认为是身体健康状况良好的标志,但涉及到个性时,这一指标暗示却是灰暗的。几项研究发现,较低的静止心率与较高的精神病评分呈正相关。符合这一描述的人表现出流于表面的魅力、胆量和冲动。考虑到已有研究将较低的静止心率和攻击性以及犯罪行为联系起来,这也就并不令人感到意外了。两点主要的解释是,低心率标志着无所畏惧,另外它可以反映出"被激怒"的不愉快状态,促使一些心理失衡的人通过暴力和冲突求得解脱。和前面谈到的一样,这些想法也需要进一步的研究来测定。

Clearly our personality is deeply associated with the physical make-up of the body. In the not-too-distant future, it may be possible to measure personality in a completely different way. Rather than using questionnaires and observing behaviour, we might be able to use a blood test and heart-rate monitor, to assess the proteins, hormones, microbacteria and pulse beneath a person’s skin.

很明显,我们的个性与身体构造有着密切的联系。在不久的将来,可能我们会使用一种完全不同的方式来衡量性格。与其使用问卷和观察行为,届时,我们或许将能够使用血液测试和心率监测器来评估人体的蛋白质、激素、微生物和脉搏,来取代问卷调查和行为观察。

We may therefore soon see the biology of personality catching up with the psychology, as Gordon Allport hoped it would all those decades ago.

因此,就像戈顿·奥珀特在几十年前希望的那样,我们可能很快就会看到人格的生物学特性与心理学携手共进。

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