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Posted: October 23rd, 2023

How do phobias affect people’s personalities?

How do phobias affect people’s personalities?

Phobias are anxiety disorders that involve excessive and persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or social interaction. People with phobias may experience various emotional and behavioral effects that can interfere with their daily functioning and quality of life.

Some of the common emotional effects of phobias are:

– Severe anxiety: People with phobias may feel intense anxiety when they encounter or anticipate their fear object or situation. They may experience physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating, nausea, rapid heartbeat, or difficulty breathing. They may also have irrational thoughts or beliefs about the danger or harm that their fear object or situation poses to them.
– Life-limitation: People with phobias may avoid or escape from their fear object or situation as much as possible, which can limit their opportunities and choices in life. For example, people with acrophobia (fear of heights) may avoid traveling by plane, people with agoraphobia (fear of open spaces or crowds) may avoid leaving their home, and people with social phobia (fear of social situations) may avoid meeting new people or speaking in public.
– Isolation: People with phobias may feel lonely or isolated from others who do not share their fears. They may also feel embarrassed or ashamed of their phobia and try to hide it from others. They may have difficulty maintaining or forming relationships with family, friends, or romantic partners because of their phobia.
– Helplessness: People with phobias may feel powerless or hopeless about overcoming their fears. They may believe that their phobia is irrational or excessive, but they cannot control it. They may also feel that there is no effective treatment for their phobia or that they are unable to access it.
– Feeling out of control: People with phobias may feel that they have no control over their emotions or reactions when they face their fear object or situation. They may feel that they are at the mercy of their phobia and that they cannot predict when or how it will affect them.

Phobias can also affect people’s personalities in different ways, depending on the type and severity of the phobia, the individual’s coping skills and resilience, and the availability of social support and professional help. Some possible personality effects are:

– Increased neuroticism: Neuroticism is a personality trait that reflects the tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, sadness, or guilt. People with high levels of neuroticism are more likely to be affected by stress and to have poor mental health outcomes. Phobias can increase neuroticism by triggering frequent and intense negative emotions and by reducing one’s ability to cope with stress.
– Decreased extraversion: Extraversion is a personality trait that reflects the tendency to be outgoing, sociable, energetic, and assertive. People with high levels of extraversion are more likely to enjoy social interactions and to seek stimulation and excitement. Phobias can decrease extraversion by limiting one’s social opportunities and by making one more cautious and inhibited in social situations.
– Decreased openness: Openness is a personality trait that reflects the tendency to be curious, imaginative, creative, and adventurous. People with high levels of openness are more likely to seek new experiences and to appreciate diversity and novelty. Phobias can decrease openness by restricting one’s exploration and experimentation and by making one more rigid and conservative in one’s views and preferences.
– Increased conscientiousness: Conscientiousness is a personality trait that reflects the tendency to be organized, responsible, diligent, and self-disciplined. People with high levels of conscientiousness are more likely to achieve their goals and to follow rules and norms. Phobias can increase conscientiousness by motivating one to plan ahead and to avoid risks and mistakes.

The good news is that phobias can be treated effectively with various psychological interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, relaxation techniques, or medication. These treatments can help people with phobias reduce their anxiety, face their fears, challenge their irrational thoughts, and improve their coping skills. By overcoming their phobias, people can also improve their emotional well-being, enhance their quality of life, and develop more adaptive personality traits.


– Fritscher L. (2021). Effects of Phobias on Your Emotions and Personality. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from
– Cherry K., Gans S. (2023). List of Phobias: Common Phobias From A to Z. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from
– Mayo Clinic. (2023). Specific phobias – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved from
– Costa P.T., McCrae R.R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Psychological Assessment Resources.

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