Personality traits in people with synaesthesia: Do synaesthetes have an atypical personality profile?

Michael Banissy, Henning Holle, Josephine Cassell, Lucy Annett, Elias Tsakanikos, Vincent Walsh, Mary Jane Spiller, Jamie Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


People with synaesthesia not only have – by definition – unusual experiences(e.g., numbers triggering colour), they also have a different cognitive profile (e.g., in terms of their memory and perceptual abilities) and a bias towards certain interests and activities (e.g., towards the arts). However, virtually nothing is known about whether synaesthetes have an atypical personality profile. In this study, a standard measure of personality was administered (Big Five Inventory) along with two questionnaire measures of empathy. Synaesthetes, relative to demographically matched controls, reported higher levels of ‘Openness to Experience’ which is known to be related to imagination and artistic tendencies. They also reported higher levels of ‘Fantasizing’ on one of the empathy measures, which is conceptually related to Openness, although their self reported empathy did not differ in other respects. In addition, synaesthetes reported lower levels of Agreeableness which we did not predict in advance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-831
Number of pages4
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • synaesthesia
  • Personality
  • Empathy
  • Art
  • Imagination


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