Thick-and Thin-skinned People

An interesting classification of human characters has been offered by the The Psychological Science journal in its pages.


The paper of the American psychologist Ernest Hartman gives the scientific background of the psychological gradation into “thick-skinned” and “thin-skinned” people. The author introduces the concept of “mentality border” which is a fragile or, alternatively, a solid frame that separates people from various manifestations of the external world.

The psychologist says that, dealing with different people, we constantly move the boundaries of our personality either by keeping a partner at some distance, or by allowing him to be closer. Thus, a person protects his “ego” from the outside world.

Hartman has also conducted a special test on the strength of psychological borders. The experiment has involved the participation of over two thousand volunteers.

Having studied their responses, the psychologist has seen that people are fundamentally different from each other judging by the thickness of their protective barriers. Some of then have very permeable barriers, while others are impenetrable. It is curious how the thickness of the protective barrier affects the nature of perceiving signals from our sense organs.

Let us say, “thin-skinned” people suffer more from loud sounds and bright light. A human being with thin barriers is more suspicious, and such people are more likely to see a brightly colored dream. Hartman also argues that people with thicker mentality borders get married easier, but they get less pleasure from sex. Individuals with thin borders of their psychic are often creative people, they are also more prone to mood swings.

At the same time it is dangerous to have very thin barriers as it often leads to stress and depressive disorders. To be too “thick-skinned” is also bad since these people have more problems while communicating.

Source of the image: Photl.

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