Nail biting is more than just an aesthetic problem. When people repeatedly bite their nails it can very often be related to that person’s emotions and personality.
Some people only bite their nails in certain situations, while other people’s nail-biting is so intense, that they are almost unable to do any kind of activity without putting a finger in the mouth.
So when and why do people bite their nails and can it tell us something about their personality?
Why do people bite their nails?
Surprisingly nail biting is a widespread human activity. And it is not something new. Apparently ancient Greek philosopher Cleanthes was a nail biter too.
There are no exact numbers for how many people bite their nails, but some studies indicate about 20 percent of adults bite regularly and up to 45% of teenagers.
There are many different opinions to why people have this habit. Some think it is a development of thumb-sucking, a comforting thing to do in various situations. But other people think you can see more about a person’s emotions and personality in their nail-biting habits and through that find the reason for why they bite their nails.
Here are some common suggestions to why people bite their nails:
Nail biting can be seen as a sign of stress. According to Carol Mathews, a psychiatrist of UCSF, nail-biters engage in a “reward system”.
During times of pressure or anxiety, when you bite “the right nail,” it just sorts of “feels good,” according to Mathews. This is why nail biting is such an advantageous stress relief method when compared to more dangerous vices such as a cigarette.
Some people see nail biting as a sign of being a perfectionist. People who generally are impatient, or who get bored or frustrated easily, are more likely to engage in repetitive body-focused behaviors such as skin-picking and nail-biting.
A research study from the University of Montreal suggests that perfectionists are more prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals. Additionally, they also experience greater levels of boredom.
It is very common to believe that when people bite their nails it’s because they are nervousness.
Chances are that you have come across this yourself. You look at a person about to do a big presentation in front of a big audience and he/she will be sitting with a finger in the mouth.
It is suggested that for some people nail biting is a sign of boredom. Whether it’s because they find math at school to easy or they don´t find the finance meeting interesting, biting nails keep them “busy”
All in all
There are no conclusive studies to who or why people bite their nails.
Man or woman, short or tall, big or small, young or old, sad or bored, nervous or stressed – nothing points in only one direction. It seems to be very individual. Some people have their own story to why they started and others can´t even remember.
But most nail biters have one thing in common: They can´t stop!
There are many different products that can help people stop biting nails. A special nail polish that taste bad is the most used products but some people even try a psychiatrist or hypnotist.