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Personality and Illness

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FIVE MODELS OF THE PERSONALITY-ILLNESS CONNECTION 1

Researchers use models to study the relationship between personalities and health which focus on how specific variables influence one another
(Wiebe & Smith, 1997). According to Larsen and Buss (2008), the variable related to stress is considered a subjective internal feeling, which generates a response to events that are perceived
“uncontrollable and threatening” (p. 589). Therefore, the level of distress, rather than by the type of event one has experienced is examined in relation to ones own individual personality.

An early archetype that explores the relationship between personality and stressful events that affect health is the interactional model. The way in which a person copes with events and the impact these events have on an individual directly relates to personality. This model indicates that coping skills are related to individual personality. If a person with type A personality became infected with a virus and has not slowed their activity level to allow the body to recover, this person could become very sick. In this way, the duration and intensity of a stressful event or illness is related to how one copes. Although stressful events are destined to occur, "personality factors determine the impact of those events by influencing people's ability to cope"
(Larsen, Buss, 2008, p.589).

In later research, psychologists became aware that the interactional model has limitations. In particular, it failed to produce identifiable and consistent coping responses that was either regularly adaptive or maladaptive (Lazarus,
1991).

The transactional model was developed from the original interactional model and its characteristics have developed to be more practical and intricate than the previous model. Although personality influences coping as in

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