Research Manager
YouGov Daily Editor

Our personality and the personalities of those around us – family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and strangers – have a significant impact on our lives.

YouGov has conducted a wide-ranging study on personality to explore what the British public think about themselves and others, and what impact this has on their lives and behaviour. It all adds up to tell a story of British personalities in the 21st century.

The study looked at our levels of personal confidence, and how we think others see us. It covered questions about character, and whether we feel liked or loved (or not) in particular social groupings. In addition, the study looked at how Britons view their appearance and how that impacts their confidence. Types and levels of loneliness have been considered, as have friendships and the way we interact with others.

The study has been divided into six parts:

Part 1: Our personalities: do we like ourselves, are we shy and is 'British reserve" a real thing? 

Part 2: How confident are the British in themselves?

Part 3: Other people and us: how much do British people care and do they “fit in”?

Part 4: Looks and Personality: How happy are Britons with their appearance?

Part 5: With whom do we like to spend our free time and are we a good friend?

Part 6: Personality and loneliness: Is Britain a country of the lonely?

The summary of the results, shown here, is based on a survey conducted in the period November – December 2018 on a nationally representative sample of 3,450 people in the United Kingdom.

Here are 12 things we have learned about how Britons feel about themselves

1. Do Brits like themselves? 61% of Britons say they generally like themselves and another 12% say they like themselves ‘all of the time’. But nearly a quarter of Britons (23%) say they don’t like themselves most of the time, or don’t like themselves at all

2. Older people and men are more likely to like themselves. Among 16-24 year-olds 57% say they like themselves, while 85% of the over-55s say the same. A greater percentage of men (16%) than women (9%) say they ‘always like themselves’ and more women (26%) than men (21%) say they dislike themselves

3. (Un)employment and (not) being in a relationship have an impact on how much you like yourself: 43% of those who are not working or studying say they don’t like themselves, significantly more than those who are employed (23%), as well as those who are studying (38%). One in five (20%) people in a relationship don’t like themselves, compared to 31% of those who are not in a relationship

4. A quarter (25%) of Britons say they are not happy with themselves. Women (26%) are less happy than men (32%) with who they are. One in five (22%) of those who are in a relationship are not happy with themselves, compared to 33% of those who are not in a relationship

5. A third of Britons (34%) do not feel confident about their personality. Just under two-thirds (58%) lack confidence when in a new social group, and one in ten Britons (12%) don’t feel confident among their family. Just under half (47%) say school or college was a place where they were not really or not at all confident

6. The majority of Britons (62%) consider their character to be ‘strong’. By contrast, three in ten (30%) describe their character as ‘soft’. Strength in character seems to develop with age: 79% of 55+ describe their character as ‘strong’, compared to 46% of the 16-24 year-olds surveyed

7. Three quarters (75%) of Brits describe themselves as friendly. Seven out of ten (68%) say they are thoughtful. About half of Brits consider themselves careful (52%) and rational (52%). Slightly over a third (39%) say they are emotional, while one in five (19%) say they’re impulsive

8. 41% of Britons prefer to spend their free time alone. One in four (26%) prefer to spend it with their pet; significantly more women (64%) than men (46%) like spending their free time with family

9. Almost half of the population (47%) experience loneliness at least a few times a month. Also, 11% experience loneliness a few times a week while 71% of those aged 16-24 say they feel lonely at least a few times a month

10. What are the barriers to spending time with others? More than a third of Britons (36%) say lack of confidence in communicating with people prevents them from interacting with others, and a third (32%) feel obstructed by financial impediments

11. A quarter (26%) of Britons say that friendship does not play an important role in their lives: Friendship has a bigger role in the lives of women (74%) than men (63%)

12. 41% of Brits don’t feel confident about how they look. A third (30%) say they dislike their looks, half (50%) don’t like their weight and a quarter (25%) don’t like their age. A third of British women (33%) consider their physical appearance as less attractive than average, as do 28% of British men

Image: Getty

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