Exploring the surgical personality

Surgeon. 2023 Feb;21(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.surge.2022.01.008. Epub 2022 Feb 28.


Surgery is a demanding field, requiring determination and emotional stability. This review explores the surgical personality, addressing international personality differences between surgical and non-surgical specialties. Across the globe, surgically-interested individuals (i.e., medical students, residents, surgeons) generally scored higher on conscientiousness, open mindedness, and extraversion, and lower on neuroticism compared to non-surgically-interested contemporaries. Extraversion was inversely correlated to burnout in surgical residents and open mindedness to reduced competence in giving feedback. Although additional region- and/or country-specific research is warranted, being or becoming a surgeon appears to correlate to personality traits such as high conscientiousness and low neuroticism.

Keywords: Big five personality traits; Five-factor model; OCEAN model; Surgical personality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Humans
  • Personality
  • Surgeons* / psychology