Researchers Explain What Biting Your Nails Says About Your Personality

Are you someone who bites your nails throughout the day? Then for sure, you have a lot of company. It also shows that about one-third of adults continue to bite their fingernails.

Have you even wondered the psychology behind biting your nails? Most people assume that this is a sign of nervousness and anxiety.

Though this makes sense this is not the whole story. According to a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, nail-biting may be a sign of of…perfectionism. Psychology today explains perfectionism as: “…an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It’s a fast track to unhappiness, and…is often accompanied by depression…”

In this article, we will talk about nail biting from a health perspective. Here we will, briefly discuss the study and its implications for the nail-biters among us.


Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are described as “repetitive, injurious, and non-functional habits that cause significant distress or impairment, including hair-pulling, skin-picking, and nail-biting.”

The research team sought to compare the tendency to engage in BFRB using two models: emotional regulation (ER) and frustrated action (FA).

The emotional Regulation model implies that BFRBs are triggered by negative emotions and alleviation of unpleasant effect. The Frustration Action model posits that BFRBs are triggered by and alleviate impatience, boredom, frustration, and dissatisfaction.

Researchers do hypothesize that individuals who engage in BFRBs are more prone to actions under the Frustration Action model, as “they demonstrate maladaptive planning styles characterized by high standards and unwillingness to relax,” two inherent traits in perfectionists.


After observing a ‘BFRB group’ and a control group which was consisted of 24 and 23 participants, respectively, researchers concluded the correctness of their hypothesis. The study’s results three observations:

(1) The BFRB group reported a considerably higher urge to engage in BFRBs than the control group across conditions.

(2) BFRB participants reported a considerably higher urge to engage in the boredom/frustration and stress environment than in the relaxed environment.

(3) Most tellingly, the BFRB group “presented significantly higher scores on maladaptive planning style, and maladaptive planning style was significantly correlated with difficulties in ER.”


Those lead writer of the study, Dr. Kieron O’Connor, expressed “We think that people for these tedium practices might be perfectionists, significance that they are unabated to unwind and with performing errands toward an ordinary pace. They would Hence inclined should frustration, impatience, Furthermore disappointment when they don’t range their objectives. ”.

Done different words, nail-gnawing might have less of a correspondence for nerves Furthermore uneasiness over for disappointment. This observation, alongside those study’s exhibited linkage for nail-gnawing Furthermore other perfectionistic qualities – impatience, boredom, Also disappointment – gives further confirmation of the perfect that hairsplitting might prompt the gesture of nail-gnawing.


Likewise the study makes clear, nail-gnawing will be recognized a body-focused tedium conduct – an order reaffirmed toward those larger part of the restorative group. Whatever BFRD-related conduct technique may be hurtful will one’s health, what’s more nail-gnawing is no special case.

Per WebMD, “Nail biting has both physical and emotional consequences.” Among the physical problems associated with nail-biting:

– Soreness and redness of nails and cuticles

– Bleeding and potential infection of skin surrounding nails

– Increased vulnerability to bacteria, infection, and viruses (via a passage from finger-to-mouth contact)

– The weakening of teeth enamel

– Maladjusted teeth

– Giving a poor impression (through ragged-looking nails or by biting them in front of others)

Psychologically, WebMD copartners fingernail gnawing with uneasiness Also stress; In spite of it Might possibly show a more not kidding mental issue for example, such that obsessive-urgent issue (OCD). Relatedly, hairsplitting will be acknowledged as a danger figure to OCD.

Fingernail gnawing is an as a relatable point yet altogether bad propensity – a propensity nourished Eventually Tom’s perusing counterproductive feelings What’s more (potential) mental issues.

Despite constantly “diagnosed” Likewise a stickler might justifiably stoke emotions from claiming pride in the uninitiated, it is a greatly bad mental state. Investigations need to join the identity characteristic of hairsplitting for heap mental issues: customized disorders, consuming disorders, social anxiety, social phobia, constitution dimorphic disorder, self-harm, substance ill-use and clinical despondency.

Sticklers might additionally create unending anxiety disorders, Furthermore would at an expanded hazard of creating heart-related states.

The relationship between nail-gnawing Also hairsplitting may be one that requests the further inquiry, and legitimately something like that. Those contemplate comprised of a generally little example for individuals, in spite of the fact that the accounted correspondence between perfectionistic qualities Also nail-gnawing is heartless.

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