What Nail Biting May Reveal About Your Personality

Does this sound like you?

If you’re biting your nails as you read this, stop what you’re doing and pay attention. Research suggests that people who engage in mindless behaviors like hair twisting or nail biting might be more likely to have certain personality traits.

Research from the University of Montreal that was published in 2015 suggests that compulsively pulling on hair, biting nails or similar habits can be illuminating to an individual’s personality. Researchers found that impatient people, or people who get bored or frustrated easily, are more likely to be nail biters (or eyelash pullers or hair twisters…).

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These traits point to perfectionism, the study suggests. Published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, researchers say that the perfectionist trait can be an underlying cause of these behaviors—and that perfectionism is more serious than many people realize.

Young female biting her nails

“We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviors may be perfectionistic, meaning that they are unable to relax and to perform task at a ‘normal’ pace,” Dr. Kieron O’Connor, professor of psychiatry at the university and the study’s lead author, said in a press release. “They are therefore prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals. They also experience greater levels of boredom.”