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Extroverts prefer beaches? What your holiday destination says about you

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We've nearly all had those group holidays. The ones where two days in, the truth begins to dawn that there's been a terrible mismatch of travelling personalities, resulting in a daily struggle to accommodate everyone's preferences - or simply a split down the middle between those lying on the beach all day and those up at 8am for a hike to some ruins.

Now new research seems to confirm a link between personality and geography - with extroverts choosing the beach and introverts choosing mountains as their preferred natural environments.

While we've probably always known that pairing devotees of exotic sunshine breaks with those who prefer wet camping weekends on home turf does not make for an ideal getaway, according to University of Virginia researchers, this is the first time a study has looked at the specific personality traits of extroversion and introversion and their relation to landscape.

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If the beach is your idea of a nightmare holiday, it may be down to personality

Psychologist Shigehiro Oishi worked from prior theories of “person-environment fit”, which says people actively select environments to match them - such as introverts seeking quiet and solitude and the more outgoing among us happy to find somewhere that offers the chance to interact.

Previous studies have looked at how this works in offices and other social environments, while the new study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, shows the theory appears to translate to physical environment, with extroverts preferring wide, open spaces such as the beach and introverts preferring woods and mountains. Otherwise, there were no other significant personality differences between those who liked the beach and those who liked the mountains.

The research comprised of five studies, one of which explored whether where someone lived had an effect on their personality in the first place. Using results from 613,000 respondents to a personality survey, the paper concludes, “We found that residents of mountainous U.S. states were more introverted than residents of flat states”, although it's difficult to say whether the introverted clustered there or were introverted as a result of living there.

To that end, another test was carried out where students were interviewed in two different spaces - open areas and secluded areas - and their responses analysed. Neither environment made the students more or less introverted or extroverted than they already were, but each group was happier in the space that correlated to their personality type.

So if the idea of a beach is your nightmare holiday, or you can't think of anything worse than miles of scenery without another living soul in sight, consider that it may be down to how outgoing - or not - you are. And choose your travelling companions wisely.

Words: Amy Swales / Images: Rex Features

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