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Researcher defines four categories of sneezers

You know that guy, the one two cubicles over who blows papers off his desk when he sneezes, then lets out a WHEW!!!! and looks around to make sure everyone heard him.

Then there's the woman down the hall who practically retreats under her desk to uncork a couple of baby mouse sneezes — achew, achew — then apologizes if anyone noticed.

Allergy season is upon us, and we're about to hear a lot more sneezing around the home and office.

But did you ever wonder if the way a person sneezes says something about him or her? Turns out, it can.

Patti Wood, a body language expert based in Atlanta, noticed early in her career that people with certain personalities seemed to sneeze in particular ways.

The driven and ambitious types had a certain sneeze style. So did the nosy busybodies.

When officials with the company that makes the allergy drug Benadryl asked her several years ago to study sneezing and personality types, she jumped at the chance.

She studied about 500 people, asking them about their personality traits and their sneeze styles. There are four general types of sneezes that match up with a four-part personality profile widely used to study human behavior, she found.

See if her categories apply to you and the sneezers in your life.

The get appreciated sneezer

Their sneezes are most likely to be loud, funny, long-lasting or come in multiples. "They make a bigger deal out of it, like a comic," Wood says. "They're looking for applause at the end of their sneeze."

Often charismatic, influential leaders, these sneezers are well liked, playful and boisterous — the life of the party. They are imaginative, open to new people and new ideas. They are optimistic and spontaneous.

They are not so good at details, and others often clean up their little messes. They don't do so well if they're not noticed. Wood says some would launch a big sneeze — even a fake one — if they were feeling neglected.

The get along sneezer

These discreet sneezers turn away and hope no one hears them. Polite, friendly and warm, they work to avoid conflict. They don't like to bother people or break social etiquette. They fear what others may think of them. They are loyal, calm and dependable. They are nurturers, supporters and good listeners.

"They don't want to be in the forefront, they want to be behind the scenes helping out," Wood says. They also can be perceived as timid and meek.

The get it done sneezer

These people may try to hold it in, but if they can't, the sneeze will be loud, forceful and fast. They want to get it out and over so they can move on to other things. They're likely to become frustrated if they sneeze more than once and will get agitated if they think allergies or a cold may slow them down.

They are decisive, efficient and wish others would be, too. They are leaders who don't rely on others. They are forceful and demanding. They enjoy physical exertion and like to multitask. "They live to get things done," Wood says. "That's the way their sneeze style is, they get it done and move on."

They also can be abrupt, the type most likely to get upset if service at a restaurant isn't exactly to their liking.

The be right sneezer

The most likely to cover their mouths when they sneeze, they expect the same from others and will tell them so.

These people are reserved and correct. They are tidy. They like rules, not rule breakers. They are methodical. They are accurate, precise and prefer solitude. They are angered by injustice.

They can be judgmental and rigid. They are the most likely to tell you of a spelling error on Page 3 in an otherwise flawless 25-page report.

Sneezing facts | by the numbers

100 mph The speed at which air shoots from your nose during a sneeze.


The number of bacteria that can be propelled into the air during a sneeze.

60 Percentage of people who say they cover their mouths with a hand or tissue when they sneeze. (Health officials say it's better to use the crook of your arm than your hand.)

48 Percentage of people who try to control sneezes by pinching their nose or putting a finger under it.

20 Percentage of people who use allergy medication.

45 Percentage of people who say they sneeze differently in private than they do in public.

Source: Patti Wood

Allergy season, 2011

Your nose itching a little more these days? Eyes feeling hot and itchy? Sneezing?

Bay News 9 meteorologist Mike Clay said tree pollen levels have soared for weeks and likely will stay up until at least May.

"They have been as high as they can be for about three weeks," Clay said. "On a scale of 1 to 10, they have been about an 11."

Dr. Patrick Klemawesch at Allergy Associates in St. Petersburg says oak pollen levels are causing problems now.

He said long, cold winters — kind of like the one we've had — "portend a more rapid and more radical swing in levels of pollen."

Researcher defines four categories of sneezers 02/27/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 28, 2011 11:33am]
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