Nail Biting Doesn’t Show That You Are Nervous! It Shows This Personality Trait!

If you see people constantly “do” nail biting, you would probably describe that action as a nervous habit.

But, according to the newest research, the driving force might not be anxiety!  One study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychiatry and Behavior Therapy points the finger at perfectionism?

“We believe that people with this repetitive conduct or behavior may be perfectionistic. That means that they are unable to perform tasks at a normal pace and relax,” said the author of the study Dr. Kieron O’Connor. “They are actually prone to impatience,  frustration and dissatisfaction when they are not reaching their goals.”

In other words, it’s the frustration and not anxiety that nail-biters are trying to calm.

The Study


Researchers studied 48 participants to reach this conclusion. Half of them were individuals who engaged in tiresome and repetitive behaviors like nail-biting.

They had the participants fill out a number of surveys in order to test their emotion regulation and organizational behavior.

The nail-biters were subsequently identified as organizational perfectionists. That is actually a characteristic for tendency to over-work, over-plan and easily become frustrated by a lack of activity.

Nail-biting process can help perfectionists feel less frustrated in the present. As you might expect, it helps them get rid of some pent up intention and energy.

However, this satisfaction does not last very long because  it’s quickly replaced by pain and, potentially, embarrassment.

Potential Impact of the Study for Nail Biting


Maybe nail biting seems like a relatively harmless activity, but it actually has its own potential to cause quite a bit of long-term damage.

It can cause weakened teeth, infections and shame-inducing deformation of the fingernails.

Those risks, together with the commonness of nail-biting, are the prime target for psychotherapists. They try to help their patients move past the conduct.

This new study has the potential to help those therapists better understand their patients and what causes their behavior.

“These results propose that individuals who suffer from body-focused repetitive behaviors could actually benefit from treatments designed to reduce boredom and frustration and to modify perfectionist beliefs,” says one of the authors of the study.

Do you have nail biting habit? Would you then consider yourself a perfectionist?

These are  also signs of perfectionism:

  • You think in ‘all-or-nothing’, black and white terms.
  • You become depressed when you don’t achieve a goal.
  • Even when you do achieve a goal, that success is not enough to make you happy.
  • You’re very severe and hard on yourself.
  • You never start a project until the ‘right’ moment – which often never seems to come.


The good news is that, if we manage it correctly, this personality trait can actually make you an amazingly talented person.

Watch this video for a few more tips to stop biting your nails!


Source: DavidWolfe

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