Personality traits in people with synaesthesia: Do synaesthetes have an atypical personality profile?
People with synaesthesia not only have – by definition – unusual experiences (e.g., numbers triggering colour), they also have a different cognitive profile (e.g., in terms of their memory and perceptual abilities) and a bias towards certain interests and activities (e.g., towards the arts). However, virtually nothing is known about whether synaesthetes have an atypical personality profile. In this study, a standard measure of personality was administered (Big Five Inventory) along with two questionnaire measures of empathy. Synaesthetes, relative to demographically matched controls, reported higher levels of ‘Openness to Experience’ which is known to be related to imagination and artistic tendencies. They also reported higher levels of ‘Fantasizing’ on one of the empathy measures, which is conceptually related to Openness, although their self-reported empathy did not differ in other respects. In addition, synaesthetes reported lower levels of Agreeableness which we did not predict in advance. âº Not only do people with synaesthesia have unusual experiences, they have an atypical personality profile. âº Synaesthesia is linked to an increased Openness to Experience, increased Fantasizing, and decreased Agreeableness. âº This profile resembles that reported in visual artists.