We interviewed a large general population birth cohort about tinnitus, and assessed their personalities using the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire. People with tinnitus were more socially withdrawn, stress reactive, alienated, and less Self-Controlled than those without. Amongst people who reported tinnitus, those who were more socially withdrawn, stress reactive, and alienated found their tinnitus more distressing. Our interpretation of the findings rests on the notion that percepts are probabilistic phenomena, and that personality factors may thus influence one's awareness of the perceptual features of tinnitus. If this is so, treatments which foster personality change may be effective in controlling tinnitus symptoms.