PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS ASSOCIATED WITH RUNNING (OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE, PERSONALITY, NARCISSISM, RUNNER'S HIGH)
GRUEN, M. DEBORAH
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Personality characteristics, psychological experiences and physiological effects associated with running participation were studied using population samples with different levels of activity involvement. Forty-five Runners were matched with forty-five Non-Runners according to age, sex and educational background. Level of activity was assessed for Runners by the amount of miles run per week, less than 20, 20-30, and 31 or more, and for Non-Runners by aerobic, anaerobic and sedentary quality of the participation. Standard personality assessments and clinical interview data was obtained for all ninety subjects. The study examined obsessive compulsive and narcissistic personality characteristics, the incidence of past and present depression, familial interpersonal relatedness, and various perceived psychological and physiological effects of running participation. Level of activity and sex differences were assessed in the analysis.;The major findings of this study are that females show more obsessive compulsive symptoms and traits and have a higher incidence of depression than males. Runner and Non-Runner differences for obsessive compulsive characteristics and depression are not significant as well as for level of activity. For narcissistic personality and familial interpersonal relatedness, there are no overall significant differences on sex, between Runners and Non-Runners or for level of activity. There are many significant differences between Runners and Non-Runners on perceived psychological and physiological effects with Runners claiming more benefits than Non-Runners. Some of these include increased energy, creativity, work productivity and improved general health and appearance with significant weight loss. In addition, Runners report a "psychic high" experience significantly more often than Non-Runners and develop "withdrawal" symptoms associated with stopping running for more than two consecutive days. Runners perceive themselves to be "psychologically addicted" to running and report other addictive behaviors such as more frequent alcohol and drug use than Non-Runners.