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Agence France-Presse
April 04, 2014
People tend to become less outgoing as they age, with a new study from the University of Gothenburg indicating this change is more apparent in those suffering from hearing loss. Researchers studied 400 individuals 80-98 years old over the course of six years. Subjects were tested for mental and physical prowess every two years, including personality characteristics such as emotional stability and extraversion. Results indicated that even if emotional stability stayed the same during the study period, participants became less outgoing.

Researchers could not connect the changes to most physical or cognitive impairments, or to difficulty finding social activities. Hearing loss was the only thing linked to reduced extraversion, and use of hearing aids did not affect this link -- indicating to researchers that providing support in the use of such aids is key.

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"To our knowledge, this is the first time a link between hearing and personality changes has been established in longitudinal studies.... If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others," said Anne Ingeborg Berg, PhD, licensed psychologist and researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg.

"Our previous studies have shown that outgoing individuals are happier with their lives. It is hypothesised that an outgoing personality reflects a positive approach to life, but it also probably shows how important it is for most people to share both joy and sadness with others," she added.
The study was published in the Journal of Personality.