Type-D Personality in Unemployed Subjects: Prevalence, Self-Efficacy and Heart Rate Variability/Autonomic Response

Katja Petrowski1, 2, *, Katharina Wendt1, Susann Wichmann2, Martin Siepmann1
1 Department of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine, Dresden, Germany University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden, Technische Universitaet Dresden Fetscherstr, 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany
2 Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy, University Witten/Herdecke, Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50, 58448 Witten, Germany

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© 2017 Petrowski et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden, Technische Universitaet Dresden Fetscherstr 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany; Tel: 0049 351 458 36 34; Fax: 0049 351 263 62 68; E-mail:



Unemployment may impair mental and physical health. The influencing factors causing such negative effects are relevant from an individual and public health perspective. The personality as one possible influencing factor was discussed. This study investigated the prevalence of the type-D personality in an unemployed population and its connections to socio-demographic, psychological and heart rate variability (HRV) parameters.


A questionnaire set including socio-demographics, type-D scale (DS14), Complaint list (BL), Beck-Depression-Inventory II (BDI-II) and the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) was handed out to 203 unemployed individuals [126 females, mean age ± SD: 42.36 ± 11.08]. For HRV assessment (RMSSD), a subsample of 83 participants [50 females, median age ± IQR: 47.00 ± 17.00] passed the “stress-tests” (timed breathing, d2-attention-stress-test, math test) while heart frequency (HF) was acquired via the Stressball software (BioSign GmbH, Ottenhofen, Germany).


53% of the unemployed had a type-D personality. Compared to non-type-D individuals, type-D individuals had rarely children and by trend a lower educational level; they showed significantly higher scores in the BDI-II and lower scores in the GSE and BL. No differences were observed in mean HF or RMSSD during all the stress-tests.


The HRV of individuals with a type-D personality is no worse than that of individuals without a type-D personality. Type-D personality was significantly associated with negative health effects regarding depressiveness, self-efficacy and physical complaints. Our main findings implicate that the DS14 could serve as a short and reliable screening instrument to select concerned unemployed individuals who might be at risk for negative health effects for adequate intervention.

Keywords: Type-D personality, Heart rate variability, RMSSD, Unemployment, Depressiveness, Self-efficacy.