Mean trait and on stage personality of stand up comedians

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We investigated whether comedians’ mean level personalities differ from the general population, and based on recent studies which show that individuals regulate their personality to conform with situational and goal requirements, we predicted that professional comedians would show greater adaptiveness to stage requirements than amateurs. That comedians have a distinctive mean level personality profile is consistent with a variety of theories including P-E fit and the ASTMA framework. The few studies of comedians’ personalities which exist, suggest that comedians are more neurotic, high on openness and less conscientious than the general population. In this study, the Big Five personality traits of 77 professional and 125 amateur stand-up comedians were compared to two large matched samples (N>100,000) using multi-group confirmatory factor analysis. Comedians were also observed whilst performing and their state personality was compared to situational requirements in terms of ten NEO-PIR facets, identified by 14 industry experts as important to effective stage performance, using MANOVA. Both professional and amateur comedians were more open-to-experience, less conscientious and more extraverted than their corresponding norm samples. Additionally, professionals showed greater neuroticism. Arguably a more significant finding was that professional comedians expressed a much more adaptive state personality on stage than was true for amateurs. The direction of shift was from a personality typical of creative writers to one typical of performers. This occurred despite their mean-levels of neuroticism and extraversion diverging more from stage requirements than was so for amateurs. Moreover, this greater adaptability was evidenced across six personality facets spanning all of the broad FFM factors of personality. This suggests the existence of a general mechanism for regulation of personality to situational requirements. This finding perhaps also sheds light on the apparent paradox that personality variability is both functional and dysfunctional. In short, match reflects functional variation whilst mismatch constitutes dysfunction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2019
Event3rd World Conference on Personality - Hanoi, Viet Nam
Duration: 2 Apr 20196 Apr 2019


Conference3rd World Conference on Personality
Abbreviated titleWAPP 2019
Country/TerritoryViet Nam
Internet address


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