Crazy Acting Tips

Researchers reveal the personality disorders most actors have.

In a recent study, University College of London psychologists Mark Davison and Adrian Furnham, researched if actors are narcissistic or if they exhibit any other mental head disorder.

Davison and Furnham’s study focused not the science behind the personalities of actors, noting that The theater has unique and unusual requirements”. Traditionally, careers in the professional acting industry rarely provide any normal job security, and there are always far more people seeking speaking lines than there are roles. The aspects of its demands further complicate the life of a professional actor. Stage actors must perform consistently in front of large audiences, and film actors must deal with the pressure of a sound studio, working long hours and repeating the same scene multiple times. They may have to spend hours in costume and makeup and perform the most intimate love scenes in front of dozens of the crew. Finally, the criteria used to judge the actor’s work is highly subjective. Being nominated for a major acting award only recognizes the work of very few actors. Most actors rely on the rating of their work by movie critics, and online performance reviews, you cannot predict the results. A negative review can kill an actor’s career, furthermore, so these high-stakes evaluations can cause even more anxiety. 

That said, actors pursue their dreams despite the odds. Those who make it are focused on their next movie or TV show, which could be their last if those reviews fail to provide critical acclaim.

Davison and Furnham laid out the mental qualities involved in the process of acting. First, an actor must memorize their scripts. Next, the actor will need to be able to portray the full range of human emotions. Ultimately, when they step into the character, they also have to step out of it.

Supporters of “method acting, the researchers point out, can experience “possession syndrome” where their lives outside the theater become “infected by their roles.”

 “Actors can experience a blurring of the lines between their own personality and their character’s in the sense that much of a character’s personality may be borrowed from the actor’s.” 

After work, the real person will have to take time to shake off that personality.

The analysis presented by the psychologists led up to their study of the actual personality traits of professional actors. The authors administered a personality disorder tests of 214 individuals, 163 of whom had trained at a drama school. Also, the actors rated their perceived acting ability, which included their level of improv and their ability to laugh or cry on cue, their preferred type of acting (film/TV or stage, comedy vs. drama), role (hero or villain), and desire to become famous.

Cluster B Personality

According to the results, actors scored higher on the so-called “Cluster B” personality disorder traits for Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Borderline. The scores were also higher on the Antisocial and Schizotypal (eccentricity) scales and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. Men were higher on scales measuring Dependent Personality and Avoidant Personality Disorder.

The authors explain that the expected high narcissism scores of actors support the idea that it takes an inflated sense of self to be able to put on a great impression (such as auditioning for a role) and to cope with constant reject when an actor does not land a role. The high Borderline scores may reflect the desire of being able to “access the extremes of emotion” which allows actors to be able to cry on cue more effectively. Moreover, the identity instability of people high on borderline traits may also fit with the actor’s need to resolve identity concerns by taking on personality traits of other people. Being high on the Histrionic scale may also be expected given the “penchant for the dramatic” among those pursuing acting careers.

However, researchers did not expect to see high Antisocial scores. Researchers argue that this may be due to an actor’s entrepreneurial side as well as being willing to take risks.

Another shocking finding was actors were high on the obsessive-compulsive scores, as the authors suggest, relates to the commitment and need for precision of those int he acting community. For example, the level of discipline to memorize scripts as well as meeting the demands of directors and producers.

For men, being somewhat dependent and avoidant could also reflect, as the authors claim, greater openness and self-honest related to their ability to admit their limitations.

Overall, the extensive analysis of personality traits of actors can give people insight into what makes actors so appealing. Beyond being able to survive, these actors are willing to put themselves out there by working hard, staying committed and open to acting craft all for your entertainment. They may not be perfect, but their personalities suggest they are doing their best at what they love.


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