Nail-biting is something that almost everyone has done at some point. Despite it not being seen as an indicator of ideal etiquette, the act is generally considered benign, and many children, as well as adults, can be seen engaging in it from time to time, but is it as harmless as it seems?
Triggers behind nail-biting and the frequency of the habit can be different for different people, but today we’re going to take a look at what nail-biting behavior could reveal about your personality.
1. You Might Be Anti-Social
Nail-biting is a common behavior in both genders and is found across all ages (1). Most consider nail-biting as a sign of nervousness or intensity. However, studies have found that the incidence of nail-biting is much higher in anti-social individuals, or those considered as “sociopaths” (2).
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that people who bite their nails are all sociopaths or dislike socializing in general. However, there is a proven correlation here which can’t be ignored. So if you bite your nails, you might need to focus on your social skills a little bit just to make sure you’re not missing out!
2. You May Have Anxiety
Nail biting is scientifically classified in the ‘body-focused repetitive behaviors’ (BFRBs) category (3). BFRBs are considered to be habits originating from a nervous state of mind, and as such, these behaviors are often connected to feelings of anxiety.
What does nail-biting have to do with these states of mind, you might ask. It has been shown that nail-biting is the body’s response to feelings of anxiety, an involuntary tick that attempts to reduce anxiety and nervousness (4). However, there isn’t enough research to show whether nail-biting helps in any significant way.
3. You May Be Obsessive-Compulsive
If you’re someone who engages in nail-biting on a regular basis, you might just be obsessive-compulsive. The ‘obsessive-compulsive disorder’ (OCD) is a disorder where the person having it has to deal with a constant barrage of thoughts that border on obsession with the subject, causing a compulsion to carry out certain tasks in a repetitive manner (5).
Research has shown that people who have a serious case of nail-biting (self-asserted) simultaneously score high when it comes to being obsessive-compulsive (6). If this is a correlation you see in your own life, it’s best to seek adequate medical help.
4. You Could Be Prone To Frustration
Research has shown that individuals with body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as nail-biting could experience frustration at a higher rate than their peers who don’t have such habits (7).
Frustration and nail-biting have been shown to be correlated with each other, with the subjects generally showing frustration when they’ve been unable to meet their own expectations regarding carrying out certain tasks.
And this brings us to our next point!
5. You Might Be A Perfectionist
Studies have shown people with BFRBs such as nail-biting tend to be perfectionists (8). Nail-biters strive to get the most out of their time in terms of productivity and seem to set unrealistically high standards for themselves. When such standards are not met, nail-biters tend to experience the aforementioned feelings of frustration and disappointment with themselves.
So if you’re a nail-biter, you might very well be a perfectionist as well. While it is certainly a good thing to expect perfection from yourself, too much of a good thing can be bad as well.
So keep your expectations from yourself realistic, and if you want to pursue perfection, do so in a calm and composed manner!
6. You Might Be A Poor Planner
Research has shown that nail-biters are prone to being victims of haphazard actions and poor planning, which ends up being counterproductive to their quest for perfection, as mentioned above (9).
Nail-biters tend to be restless about dishing out productivity, and it is thus very important for them to make plans and to act on those plans as soon as possible. This can cause poor (maladaptive) planning, and the resultant actions could get adversely affected.
If you’re a nail-biter, please make sure that you keep this point in mind, and think out everything very carefully before you decide to act.
7. You Can Get Easily Bored
Some studies have linked nail-biting with boredom (10). There are many people for whom BFRBs such as nail-biting are involuntary responses to feelings of being bored or disinterested. If you’re someone who bites their nails, it could very well be happening during the duller, lazier times of the day.
If you wish to stop biting your nails during such times, it’s best to be aware of what’s going on and to pay attention. Stop yourself from getting bored, or just find something else to do. Don’t let your mind drift off!
So these were a few things that nail-biting can tell you about your personality. Even though it’s an activity that a LOT of people engage in, it could certainly be a cause for concern beyond a certain point.
Besides the obvious hygiene issues and the possibility of falling sick often due to your mouth’s exposure to germs present in nails, the psychological issues associated with nail-biting are nothing to scoff at either.
Do keep the information that we’ve given you today in mind, and seek medical help if your nail-biting gets severe. And like mom always says, ‘stop biting your nails!’