Always look on the bright side of life

This is often easier said than done but for people born in autumn or spring, it really is easier.

There is an increasing amount of research being conducted into how your season of birth affects your temperament, thrill seeking tendency and even your risk of developing certain mood disorders later in life.

For those of us born in spring or autumn, like myself, we are more likely to have what is called a hyperthymic temperament. This personality is characterised by the tendency to be excessively positive, have lots of energy and can be quite talkative (this perfectly describes me!)

 

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(Image courtesy of TORLEY [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Flickr)

People born in summer have been found to have a cyclothymic temperament. This personality has rapid, frequent mood swings between sad and cheerful. These people go through a rollercoaster ride of emotions and are more likely to develop biopolar disorder. They are also more likely to have high thrill seeking tendencies and like to take risks.

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Rollercoaster ride of emotions for summer-born people
(Image courtesy of ZakVTA [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] from Flickr)

Winter babies grow up to be people who are the hardest to irritate but the highest tendency to have depressive moods. They are the least likely to engage in novelty or thrill seeking behaviour. Winter and spring babies are also more likely to develop schizophrenia. For a great post demystifying schizophrenia, check out this blog post by a fellow student here.

 

But how can our birth season control our personality?

Well researchers still aren’t entirely sure but they know it is to do with monoamine neurotransmitters activity. This is where the brain and the nervous system release chemicals which influence your emotions. The most common chemicals are dopamine and serotonin.

The season of birth is thought to affect how dopamine and serotonin is released by the brain due to the amount of another chemical, melatonin, in your system. Melatonin levels can be influenced by exposure to sunlight.

So less melatonin in your system during winter means lower levels of dopamine which results in less novelty seeking behaviour and less mood swings. In summer when there is more sunlight, higher levels of melatonin result in higher dopamine levels, making people more happy and positive.

Researchers believe that the level of melatonin is established early on in your life. So the amount of exposure to sunlight you recieve as a baby will influence your personality even into adulthood.

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(Image courtesy of Ben.Millett [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] from Flickr)

It can’t all be down to sunlight can it?

No it isn’t. There are many things which influence your personality such as genetic and environmental factors. However researchers are increasingly finding trends in other factors such as date of birth and conception, activity whilst pregnant, nutrients received whilst in the womb and in the first few months after birth.

All of these studies have focused on the northern hemisphere as well, it may be that we do things a bit differently down here in the southern hemisphere. For instance, my boyfriend’s siblings are all born in autumn. There is only 4 days between their birthdays, spaced out over 13 years yet they each have their own distinct temperament. The youngest has a perfect hyperthymic personality, especially relating to the talkativeness, but the two older siblings display more winter or summer characteristics than their autumn births would suggest. More research is needed.

How does this fit with your birth and personality? Do you fit your season?

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Does your birth season match your personality?
(Image courtesy of Sarah Spaulding [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] from Flickr)

 

References:

Season of birth and temperaments:
http://www.ecnp-congress.eu/~/media/Files/congress/Berlin%202014/Pratical/Press/Gonda%20press%20release%20FINAL.pdf

Season of birth and novelty seeking: https://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/daniel.nettle/season%20of%20birth.pdf

Season of birth and novelty seeking, Finnish study: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/38021663_Novelty_seeking_among_adult_women_is_lower_for_the_winter_borns_compared_to_the_summer_borns_replication_in_a_large_Finnish_birth_cohort

Schizophrenia link to those born in winter: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02245010


One Response to “Always look on the bright side of life”

  1. Ruth de Jager says:

    Interesting post! It kind of seems like witchcraft when you first think of it, but once thinking about it, stable weather patterns could definitely affect people in utero. It would be interesting to see if there are net differences in personality between people of difference climates.