Dentists' personality styles were determined using the short form of the Personality Styles and Disorder Inventory. The results were compared to those of the general population and psychotherapists to best draw conclusions on the differences in personality styles of dentists.
The most significant differences were found in the categories of willfulness, spontaneity, reservation, ambition, optimism, and conscientiousness. The influence of the characteristics necessary for a positive dentist-patient relationship was also discussed in the study.
"Dentists differed in 10 out of 14 personality styles from the normalization sample," wrote the authors, led by Dr. Thomas Gerhard Wolf from the school of dental medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
Compared to the general population, dentists had significantly higher levels of conscientiousness, a personality style that consists of organization, persistence, and purposefulness. Dental procedures require a high level of conscientiousness, and it is crucial for dentists to be organized and to plan the best therapy for patients individually while considering all of the risk factors and the patient's best interests.
Dentists also tended to be more optimistic than the nondentist sample. Optimism refers to having a positive, confident, life-affirming attitude, and this personality style may be beneficial in interpersonal relationships, such as the dentist-patient relationship.
The dentist sample was significantly less willful, less spontaneous, less reserved, and less ambitious than the other normative samples, which indicates the possibility of stronger relationship and communication skills.
"The expression of personality styles is most likely to influence the choice, delivery and cost as well as patient perception of treatment," wrote the study authors.
There were also gender differences among dentists in the sample. Female dentists were less ambitious and assertive compared to male dentists. However, female dentists were more spontaneous, intuitive, helpful, and self-critical.
Taken as a whole, dentistry may either influence the personality of dentists, or on the other hand, individuals with a specific personality profile may choose dentistry as a profession. The study authors suspect that the second assumption is true, but more studies are necessary, with a focus on the personality of dentists before and after they begin their careers.
"Further studies on the impact of dentist's personality and dentist-patient relationship would be useful and necessary for better oral healthcare and to provide these skills for practitioners," concluded the study authors.
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