What Is Type D Personality, and How Might It Relate to Erectile Dysfunction?

What Is Type D Personality, and How Might It Relate to Erectile Dysfunction?

Different people are prone to different personality traits due to heredity and environmental factors. Psychologists and social scientists have grouped some of these features into distinct personality types so as to gain a better understanding of the diverse preferences, motivations, and behaviors of a group of people.

For example, one personality theory defines type D (“distressed”) personality as characterized by social inhibition and negative affectivity. Individuals with type D personality may be more likely than other personality types to exhibit or express negative emotions, regardless of their life circumstances. This is negative affectivity. These individuals may also tend to avoid expressing themselves during social interactions, which is social inhibition. 

Previous research has unearthed associations between type D personality and several chronic health conditions including cardiovascular diseases, anxiety, and depression. Perhaps these associations were what prompted the authors of a recent study to investigate the possible association between type D personality and erectile dysfunction (ED).

ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection long enough to have satisfactory sex. This medical condition is common in men all around the world, and it becomes more prevalent in men as they age. Since sexual connection can contribute greatly to a person’s quality of life, ED can be a major blow to a person’s mental and emotional well-being, as well as the well-being of their sexual partner(s). Medical conditions and lifestyle influences such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and smoking are all risk factors for ED. This condition has also been associated with mental health disorders such as depression.

To examine the association between ED, depression, and type D personality, the researchers of this study recruited a total of 1,740 Taiwanese men with ED between the ages of 20-40 to take an online survey. The survey contained three sections: 1) questions related to the participants’ demographics, 2) the International Index of Erectile Function-5 (IIEF-5) to assess ED severity, and 3) the Depression and Somatic Symptom Scale (DSSS) and Type D Scale-14 (DS14) for evaluating depression and type D personality.

Of the 1,740 participants, 941 (54.1%) had type D personality. Additionally, a total of 360 (15.9%) participants had moderate to severe ED (defined as a total IIEF-5 score of 5-11). Interestingly, the erectile function scores of the men in the type D personality group were significantly lower than the scores of the other men. What’s more, a greater proportion of the men with type D personality had moderate to severe ED, compared to the men who did not have this personality type (19.4% versus 11.8%).

While these findings indicate that type D personality may be associated with higher rates of ED, it does not mean that one of these things causes the other. There are several factors that could be at play. For example, previous research has suggested that people with type D personality are less likely to seek medical attention for health problems (perhaps due to social inhibition), and therefore may not receive advice or treatment that could prevent ED. Regardless, this information provides a valuable look into how personality type may play into a person’s health.


  • Fan, Y. H., Liou, Y. J., & Cheng, W. M. (2022). Type D Personality Independently Predicts Erectile Dysfunction in Taiwanese Young Men. The Journal of Sexual Medicine19(9), 1397-1403. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2022.06.012

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