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Personality and Mortality Risk Across the Life Span: The Importance of Conscientiousness as a Biopsychosocial Attribute


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This study addressed whether personality in childhood and personality in adulthood are independent predictors of mortality risk and the extent to which behavioral and other psychosocial factors can explain observed relationships between personality and mortality risk. This was a prospective longitudinal cohort study of 1,253 male and female Californians over 7 decades (1930-2000). Proportional hazards regressions were the principal analyses. Mortality risk (in the form of relative hazards) was the primary outcome. Additional tests of mediators and moderators ascertained whether associations between personality and mortality risk remained significant when psychosocial and behavioral variables were statistically controlled. The findings, including a new 14-year additional follow-up in old age, revealed that conscientiousness, measured independently in childhood and adulthood, predicted mortality risk across the full life span. The link from childhood remained robust when adult conscientiousness and certain behavioral variables were controlled. Psychosocial and behavioral variables partly explained the adult conscientiousness-longevity association. The findings demonstrate the utility and complexity of modern personality concepts in understanding health and point to conscientiousness as a key underexplored area for future biopsychosocial studies.
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Personality and Mortality Risk Across the Life Span: The Importance of
Conscientiousness as a Biopsychosocial Attribute
Leslie R. Martin
La Sierra University
Howard S. Friedman
University of California, Riverside
Joseph E. Schwartz
Stony Brook University, State University of New York
Objective: This study addressed whether personality in childhood and personality in adulthood are indepen-
dent predictors of mortality risk and the extent to which behavioral and other psychosocial factors can explain
observed relationships between personality and mortality risk. Design: This was a prospective longitudinal
cohort study of 1,253 male and female Californians over 7 decades (1930 –2000). Proportional hazards
regressions were the principal analyses. Main Outcome Measures: Mortality risk (in the form of relative
hazards) was the primary outcome. Additional tests of mediators and moderators ascertained whether
associations between personality and mortality risk remained significant when psychosocial and behavioral
variables were statistically controlled. Results: The findings, including a new 14-year additional follow-up in
old age, revealed that conscientiousness, measured independently in childhood and adulthood, predicted
mortality risk across the full life span. The link from childhood remained robust when adult conscientiousness
and certain behavioral variables were controlled. Psychosocial and behavioral variables partly explained the
adult conscientiousness–longevity association. Conclusion: The findings demonstrate the utility and com-
plexity of modern personality concepts in understanding health and point to conscientiousness as a key
underexplored area for future biopsychosocial studies.
Keywords: personality, health behaviors, life-span mortality risk, conscientiousness
Personality, a relatively stable set of cognitive–motivational and
socioemotional traits and behavior patterns, is increasingly recog-
nized as a meaningful contributor to the prediction of a wide range
of important human outcomes. Because it captures a combination
of genetic, familial, and sociocultural elements, personality can be
an important factor for understanding long-term biopsychosocial
processes. In the decades since the Type A behavior pattern was
recognized as a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease,
accumulating evidence has suggested that personality, broadly
construed, is related to important health outcomes. Increasingly,
the five-factor approach to personality, coupled with attention to
trait– environment interactions, has drawn some focus away from
narrower and more pathology-based concepts like Type A, anxi-
ety, repression, reactivity, inhibition, and delinquency. That is,
conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism
(and to some extent openness), in the context of situational exi-
gencies, have been shown to be relevant to later important out-
comes, including life-span mortality risk (Caspi et al., 1997; Chris-
tensen et al., 2002; Danner, Snowdon, & Friesen, 2001; Friedman,
Tucker, Schwartz, Martin, et al., 1995; Friedman, Tucker,
Schwartz, Tomlinson–Keasey, et al., 1995; Friedman, Tucker,
Tomlinson–Keasey, Schwartz, Wingard, & Criqui, 1993; Martin et
al., 2002; McCann, 2005; Smith, Gallo, & Ruiz, 2003; Wilson,
Mendes de Leon, Bienias, Evans, & Bennett, 2004).
Initially surprising but now increasingly well documented is the
finding that conscientiousness may be a key biopsychosocial attribute
(Friedman, Tucker, Schwartz, Martin, et al., 1995; Friedman et al.,
1993; Martin & Friedman, 2000; McCann, 2005; Roberts & Bogg,
2004; Roberts, Caspi, & Moffitt, 2003; Weiss & Costa, 2005), in part
because of its demonstrated links to healthy behaviors (e.g., Hamp-
son, Goldberg, Vogt, & Dubanoski, 2006; Roberts & Bogg, 2004;
Tucker et al., 1995). Despite the promise conscientiousness holds for
aiding understanding of patterns of individual difference and their
associations with health, a number of interrelated questions about
conscientiousness have not been addressed. First, there is the question
as to whether conscientiousness predicts mortality risk independently
in both childhood and adulthood. If childhood conscientiousness has
far-reaching, independent effects, then its associations with health and
Leslie R. Martin, Department of Psychology, La Sierra University;
Howard S. Friedman, Department of Psychology, University of California,
Riverside; Joseph E. Schwartz, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral
Science, Stony Brook University, State University of New York.
This research was supported by National Institute on Aging Grants
AG08825 (Howard S. Friedman, principal investigator) and AG15188
(Leslie R. Martin, principal investigator). Part of the data was made
available from the Terman Life-Cycle Study, and assistance was provided
by Eleanor Walker of the Terman project. We bear full responsibility for
death certificate collection and coding, data refinements, analyses, and
interpretations. This article is one in a series from our multiyear, multidis-
ciplinary project on psychosocial predictors of health and longevity. Pre-
vious publications from the project, including previous studies of person-
ality and longevity using a shorter time period and less complete death
data, are cited as appropriate, and care should be taken not to include
overlapping findings in meta-analyses or other reviews.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Leslie R.
Martin, Department of Psychology, La Sierra University, 4500 Riverwalk
Parkway, Riverside, CA 92515-8247. E-mail: or
Health Psychology Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association
2007, Vol. 26, No. 4, 428 436 0278-6133/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0278-6133.26.4.428
mortality may be more reflective of fundamental psychophysiological
phenomena, such as serotonin function (Williams et al., 2004), than if
the prognostic value of childhood conscientiousness is due mostly to
its association with later-life (adult) conscientiousness and associated
healthy adult behaviors. Second, there is the question of whether the
prognostic value of conscientiousness continues across the full life
span, into old age. If it does, this would be additional evidence for a
fundamental process. Third, there is the related question of the extent
to which risk taking (and death from injury) and health behaviors,
such as smoking, drinking, and overeating, can explain any lifelong
relationships between personality (especially conscientiousness) and
mortality risk. Longitudinal data are required to address such ques-
tions but are difficult to obtain (e.g., Hampson et al., 2001). No
longitudinal studies to date have assessed personality from childhood
through the full life span with rich life-course behavioral data.
The present study used new data we collected to follow up the
Terman life-cycle cohort, born on average in 1910 (Terman et al.,
1925; Terman & Oden, 1947), to predict and explain mortality
from 1930 to 2000. Specifically, this article addresses three issues:
(a) whether childhood and adult personality variables (especially
conscientiousness) are independent predictors of later mortality
risk, or whether childhood personality predicts longevity only
through its association with adult personality; (b) the associations
of personality, in both childhood and adulthood, with mortality
risk and cause of death through the year 2000 (when the average
participant was deceased or well into his or her 80s); and (c)
certain potential mediators and moderators as explanations for
observed relationships between personality and mortality risk.
The participants were drawn from the original group of 1,528
individuals recruited by Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman and
colleagues in the 1920s. Nominated by their teachers and others as
excellent students, the participants included by Terman had IQs of
at least 135. Consistent with procedures of previous personality
studies using this data set to produce a relatively age-
homogeneous, school-age initial sample, we excluded participants
not born from 1904 to 1915 (n 155), those who died or were lost
to follow-up prior to 1930 (n 74), and those missing all child-
hood personality information (n 46). This resulted in a final
sample of 1,253 (706 male) participants, 99% White and mostly
middle class, who were born on average in 1910. The 275 ex-
cluded individuals did not differ systematically from those retained
for analysis on the dimensions of sex, intelligence, parents’ socio-
economic status, or ethnicity.
In addition to addressing new questions regarding the persis-
tence of personality effects when certain variables are controlled,
the data herein represent a significant expansion on our previous
work (Friedman et al., 1993), as the time period for predicting
mortality risk is now extended an additional 14 years (1986
2000). Further, we have now identified some individuals who were
previously lost to the study but were still presumed alive; that is,
we have verified some of them as still living and documented date
and cause of death for others. (As of 2000, 789 participants in this
sample had been verified as deceased.)
Personality Variables
We developed a set of reliable personality measures from the first
of Terman’s assessments, made in 1922 (based on parent and teacher
reports, it is described elsewhere; Friedman et al., 1993). Of these
childhood measures, four (conscientiousness–social dependability,
cheerfulness– humor, sociability, and permanency of mood) were
utilized in the present study because of their documented association
to the five-factor model (John, 1990; McCrae & Costa, 1987; McCrae
& John, 1992) constructs of Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Ex-
traversion, and Neuroticism (Martin & Friedman, 2000).
Table 1
reports the reliabilities for these scales.
Using factor analysis, testing for measurement invariance, and
rational analysis, we also created adult personality scales for four of
the Big Five (Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Extraversion, and
Neuroticism) from data collected in 1940 (average participant age
30 years; Martin & Friedman, 2000). The item content seems insen-
sitive with regard to measurement of openness, and this is the most
likely explanation for the failure of openness to emerge as a factor
(Martin & Friedman, 2000). These 1940 personality scales were then
used as models for selecting items to construct similar personality
scales from self-report data collected in 1950.
Table 1 reports the
alpha reliabilities of these 1940 and 1950 adult personality scales as
well as their test–retest correlations.
We averaged the 1940 and 1950 scale scores for each of the four
personality scales (standardized and adding a constant to eliminate
negative values) for those who had personality data available at both
time points (n 731). For participants who had personality data for
only one assessment (n 291 with 1940 data only; n 50 with 1950
data only), the available decade was used to indicate adult personality.
The decision to define adult personality in this way was made to
maximize the number of participants with personality data (given the
high correlations between 1940 and 1950) while also minimizing
The childhood conscientiousness scale included prudence–forethought,
freedom from vanity– egotism, conscientiousness, and truthfulness; the
cheerfulness– humor scale included cheerfulness– optimism and sense of
humor; sociability included fondness for large groups, popularity, leader-
ship, preference for playing with others, and preference for social activi-
ties; permanency of mood was a single item.
The adulthood conscientiousness scale included being thrifty and careful
about making loans, making excuses (), enjoyment of planning work in
detail, driving self steadily in work, being impulsive (), persistence, and
having definite purposes for apportioning time and energy; the agreeableness
scale included trying to avoid arguments, trying to get one’s own way (),
upbraiding those who don’t complete tasks on time (–), being critical of others
(), avoiding hurting others’ feelings, ignoring the feelings of others (),
having an extra good opinion of self (), losing one’s temper easily (), being
dominant with the opposite sex (), being easy to get along with, and being
vain and egotistic (); the extraversion scale included taking the lead to
enliven a party, preferring a play to a dance (), being a “stay-at-home” versus
a “gadabout” type (), preferring a quiet mate (), preferring to have many
women friends, enjoyment of social contacts, and having exclusive friendships
(); the neuroticism scale included being very affected by praise/blame,
feeling miserable, being touchy, having periods of loneliness, feeling lonesome
with others, being bothered with useless thoughts, feeling burdened with
remorse/regret, lacking self-confidence, worrying over humiliating experi-
ences, alternating between happiness and sadness without apparent reason,
having easily hurt feelings, finding it difficult to be serene/cheerful, being
moody, being self-confident (), being emotional, having sensitive feelings,
and suffering from feelings of inferiority.
measurement error for those with data at both 1940 and 1950. Less
than 5% had data at 1950 only.
Potentially Explanatory Variables
Alcohol use. Participants answered questions about their own
alcohol use in 1950 and 1960. For each decade, we categorized
participants as (a) never drink or only rarely, (b) drink moderately
(never or seldom intoxicated), or (c) heavier drinkers. For individ-
uals with alcohol data at both time points, we used the report that
indicated heavier drinking as our measurement.
Smoking. Data on smoking were not collected as part of Ter-
man’s original study. Our team did, however, collect this infor-
mation (retrospectively) in 1991–92 through self- or next of kin
report. Number of pack years smoked was calculated as (years
participant smoked average number of cigarettes smoked per
day during the time participant smoked) / 20. The number of pack
years ranged from 0 (never smoked) to 180. These data likely
underestimate the effect of smoking, because information on heavy
smokers who died very young appears more likely to be missing.
Body mass index (BMI). Participants reported their weight and
height as part of the 1940 assessment. We used this self-report
information to calculate BMI using Quetelet’s formula: BMI
weight in kg / height in m
Risk taking. Participants reported on their hobbies and leisurely
pursuits (by listing them in an open-ended format) several times from
1922 to 1940. These activities were compiled and rated independently
by two coders (trained psychology graduate students) according to
whether the activity involved risk (e.g., piloting small airplanes was
considered risky, whereas stamp collecting was not); participants
were then categorized according to whether they engaged in at least
one risky activity (Martin et al., 2002). This method was utilized,
rather than a continuous format, because no information on frequency
was available. Thus, a summation of risky activities might yield a high
score for someone who had tried a number of risky endeavors only
once, as opposed to a person who regularly engaged in a single
high-risk activity. The dichotomous categorization offers less preci-
sion (and effects associated with this measure are likely attenuated),
but it also minimizes misclassifications of the type described above.
Mental health. In 1950, Terman and his research team classi-
fied participants into one of three categories based on their re-
sponses to questions in 1936, 1940, 1945, and 1950, as well as
personal interviews. These classifications were (a) showing serious
maladjustment, (b) showing some maladjustment, and (c) satisfac-
torily adjusted (Martin et al., 1995).
Education. Cumulative level of education was reported by
participants in 1950, and this was used as a measure of socioeco-
nomic status. Information on income was also available in the data
set but included only earned income, although some participants
reported other forms, such as room and board. In addition, earned
income underestimates socioeconomic status for women who did
not work outside the home.
Cause of death. Cause-of-death data were recorded from death
certificates, most of which our research team gathered from state
and county agencies. Each certificate was coded by a certified
nosologist for underlying cause of death, using the ninth revision
of the International Classification of Diseases (U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, 1980). These detailed codes were
collapsed into five broad categories: (a) cardiovascular disease, (b)
cancer, (c) accident or injury, (d) other, and (e) unknown. In cases
where death certificates were not available (n 81), information
from next of kin was used by our physician expert on death
classification to assign the deaths to one of the above categories.
Statistical Analyses
Proportional hazards regressions, which assess mortality risk
while taking age into account, were used to test the associations of
childhood and adult personality with longevity and cause of death.
We then explored variables that might help to explain these asso-
ciations and tested for gender interactions. Tuma’s RATE program
was used for these analyses (Tuma, 1980).
In this article we present results from Gompertz models, having cross-
checked the analyses against the more widely used Cox model (which
makes no assumptions about the survival curve’s shape, assuming instead
that the ratio of the hazard functions for participants, whose values of the
covariates differ, is not age dependent and that a log-linear function is
therefore adequately able to represent the effects of these covariates on
hazard rates). Results from the comparable Gompertz and Cox models
were very similar in each case.
Table 1
Personality Scales, Alpha Reliabilities, and Descriptive Statistics
Personality variable
reliability Test–retest
1922 1940
Conscientiousness .76 (4)
Cheerfulness-humor .52 (2)
Sociability .65 (5)
Permanency of mood single item
Neuroticism .85 (17) .68 (8) .87
Agreeableness .72 (11) .66 (4) .75
Extraversion .65 (7) .65 (3) .66
Conscientiousness .65 (7) .71 (5) .71
Note. The number of items per scale is shown in parentheses.
n 1,022.
n 781.
Correlations between personality and potential explanatory vari-
ables (alcohol use, smoking, BMI, risk taking, mental health, and
education) were examined, and those demonstrating significant
relationships were included in survival analyses to see if they
might elucidate mechanisms by which personality is related to
mortality risk. To better understand possible pathways, we also
tested whether predictive strength varied across causes of death. A
constrained Gompertz proportional hazards model, in which the
independent variable predicted equally to all causes of death, was
compared with an unconstrained model, in which the independent
variable was allowed to predict differentially to individual causes
of death. In addition, the well-documented relationship between
sex and mortality risk was evident in this sample, and so sex was
controlled for in all analyses.
Because the relative hazard represents the increase or decrease
in risk associated with a 1-point change on a predictor variable, we
present the interquartile relative hazard (InterQ rh) for variables
with a range greater than 3 points. In these cases, every individual
with data was included in the analyses, but the estimated effect
indicates the relative risk associated with being at the 75th versus
the 25th percentile of the predictor.
Personality and Mortality Risk
As of the year 2000, 492 (70%) of the men and 297 (51%) of the
women in this sample had verified deaths. The median age of
death, calculated with Kaplan–Meier estimates, was 72.6 years for
men and 74.5 years for women.
Childhood personality. Across 7 decades (1930 –2000), child-
hood conscientiousness, InterQ rh(1252) 0.81, p .001, and
cheerfulness, InterQ rh(1252) 1.19, p .01, were both signif-
icantly related to life span mortality risk, with conscientious chil-
dren living longer and cheerful children dying sooner. Childhood
sociability, InterQ rh(1252) 0.96, ns, was unrelated to mortality
risk. Permanency of mood (lower neuroticism) was related to
decreased mortality risk, although this association was driven by
the effect for males. There was no significant gender interaction,
and this was the only case in which a gender difference in the
direction of the relative hazards was found, male InterQ rh(705)
0.89, p .05; female InterQ rh(546) 1.05, ns. These results
replicate through the year 2000 our earlier findings (Friedman et
al., 1993) that predicted deaths through 1986 (and now include
Terman participants who have been newly located by us during the
past dozen years as dead or alive).
Adult personality. Conscientiousness was the only adult per-
sonality variable significantly related to mortality risk from 1950
to 2000, InterQ rh(1071) 0.82, p .001 (see Figure 1). Adult
neuroticism, InterQ rh(1071) 1.00, ns; agreeableness, InterQ
rh(1071) 0.94, ns
; and extraversion, InterQ rh(1071) 1.04,
ns, all failed to predict mortality risk from 1950 to 2000.
Child Versus Adult Personality
Both child and adult conscientiousness were shown, in the first
set of survival analyses, to be significant predictors of mortality
risk. The two scales were reliably but only modestly correlated,
r(1071) .15, p .01. Although this is consistent with some
recent reports on the measurement of conscientiousness over time
(e.g., Shiner, Masten, & Roberts, 2003), other studies have shown
considerable stability of the construct over time, and heritability
coefficients for conscientiousness are generally robust (e.g., Jang,
Livesley, & Vernon, 1996; Loehlin, McCrae, Costa, & John, 1998;
Luciano, Wainwright, Wright, & Martin, 2006). The construct of
personality change is complex (Caspi & Roberts, 1999), and the
more modest correlation shown here likely reflects the fact that the
child and adult conscientiousness variables differed in a number of
ways, including method (parent and teacher ratings vs. self-report),
emphasis on different facets of the construct (the childhood scale
was more focused on self-discipline), and developmental stage at
the time of assessment (child vs. adult, allowing for real change).
Given that conscientiousness was predictive of mortality risk at
both time points, a survival analysis was conducted in which both
indicators were entered into the same equation. In this analysis,
each indicator of conscientiousness retained statistical significance
and with equal strength; each InterQ rh(1071) 0.85, p .01.
There was no evidence of a gender interaction with either measure.
This analysis indicates that childhood conscientiousness did not
predict mortality risk solely through its link with adult conscien-
tiousness (see Figure 2, which plots the predicted probability of
death by childhood conscientiousness while controlling for adult
Explanatory Pathways
Because both child- and adult-measured conscientiousness were
predictive of decreased mortality risk, we examined whether rel-
atively high versus low long-term conscientiousness and increas-
ing versus decreasing pathways were differentially related to mor-
tality outcomes (as measured by conscientiousness scores at
childhood and adulthood). We thus plotted four predicted survival
curves, one for each of the following: (a) an individual in the upper
quartile in both childhood and adulthood [, ], (b) an individual
in the upper quartile in childhood and the lower quartile in adult-
hood [, ], (c) an individual in the lower quartile in childhood
and the upper quartile in adulthood [, ], and (d) an individual
in the lower quartile in childhood and adulthood [, ]. Figure 3
shows that the highest mortality risk was for those with low
conscientiousness at both time points, whereas those who scored
high at both time points had the lowest risk. Individuals who were
low at one time point and high at the other were nearly identical in
terms of risk, regardless of direction of change, and this risk was
about midway between the other two.
Causes of death may also be informative regarding the biopsy-
chosocial pathways leading to death, and so analyses treating each
In an earlier article (Martin & Friedman, 2000), the relative hazard (rh)
associated with agreeableness in the Terman sample was reported as 0.84
( p .01). Because the current study found a weaker relationship (rh
0.94, now not significant), the following differences between that study and
this one should be noted: (a) The earlier analysis predicted deaths from
1940 to 1991, whereas the current study predicted from 1950 to 2000; (b)
The earlier analysis included only participants who had 1940 personality
data available, whereas the current study combined information from 1940
and 1950 when both were available and used either 1940 or 1950 data if
only one was available (resulting in different samples for the two studies).
Future researchers might note this indication that agreeableness may have
some protective effect.
cause of death as a separate dependent variable were conducted
next. In this sample, 34% of deaths were from cardiovascular
disease, 35% were from cancer, 8% were from injuries (trauma),
15% were from other causes, and 7% were from unknown causes.
Although there were some slight differences across our five cause-
of-death categories in the risk associated with low conscientious-
ness, these differences were not statistically significant. The most
interesting of these differences was that less conscientious indi-
viduals were more likely to die from injuries than were those
higher on conscientiousness, but perhaps because so few individ-
uals overall died of injury, this trend was not significant.
Next, behavioral and psychosocial variables were examined to
better understand the observed personality–mortality associations.
These variables were identified by an examination of correlations
with the personality predictors. Adult alcohol use, smoking, BMI,
risk taking, education, and mental health were all related to one or
50 55 60 65 70 75 8
Probability of Death
Low Conscientiou
sness (25th %-ile)
High Conscientiousness (75th %-ile)
Figure 1. Estimated probability of a Terman participant’s dying (1950 –2000) by a given age, by sex and adult
50 55 60
65 70 75
80 85 90
Probability of Death
Low Conscientiousness (25t
h %-ile)
High Conscientiousness (75th %-ile)
Figure 2. Estimated probability of a Terman participant’s dying (1950–2000) by a given age, by sex and
childhood conscientiousness, controlling for adult conscientiousness.
more of the relevant personality variables (childhood conscien-
tiousness, cheerfulness, and permanency of mood, and adulthood
conscientiousness; see Table 2). Therefore, these behavioral and
psychosocial variables were entered as controls into proportional
hazards regression equations along with the personality variables.
As can be seen in Table 3, the predictive power of childhood
conscientiousness was unchanged when alcohol use, smoking, and
education were taken into account (compare Models 1 and 2).
Adulthood conscientiousness was examined next, along with al-
cohol use, smoking, BMI, education, and mental health. In the
subsample of individuals with data available on all of these di-
mensions, and with these variables controlled, adult conscientious-
ness was no longer a significant predictor of mortality risk (com-
pare Models 3 and 4 in Table 3). Childhood cheerfulness also
failed to maintain its predictive ability when alcohol use, smoking,
risk taking, and mental health were included in the equation.
analysis of permanency of mood for males, controlling mental
health and education, indicated that inclusion of these variables in
the model did not diminish the predictive power of childhood
mood permanency.
This study, which assessed the associations of personality char-
acteristics with mortality risk across 7 decades (1930 –2000), con-
firmed the importance of conscientiousness, measured in both
childhood and adulthood, for predicting life span mortality risk. Of
importance for understanding process, each characteristic had an
independent predictive effect.
The child and adult conscientiousness variables themselves
were somewhat different for the two time points, suggesting both
the complexity and the power of this basic dimension of person-
ality for understanding health. The childhood measure was derived
from parent and teacher ratings and most closely corresponded
with the facets of self-discipline and dutifulness as described by
the well-validated NEO Personality Inventory—Revised (NEO
PI–R; Costa & McCrae, 1992), whereas the adulthood measure of
conscientiousness was based on self-report data and was most
closely related to the NEO PI–R facets of achievement striving,
self-discipline, and deliberation (Martin & Friedman, 2000). Dif-
ferences in method of assessment, measurement unreliability, and
the substantial time lag from 1922 to 1940 and 1950 (including
real personality change) are likely contributors to the relative
independence of these two conscientiousness measures. Their
comparable strength suggests that a full range of conscientiousness
facets may be relevant to increased longevity. Their relative inde-
pendence raises the possibility that childhood personality dimen-
sions change, perhaps becoming more complex, as they encounter
a multitude of environments and situations over time, complicating
the efforts to ascertain the mediators of their long-term sequelae.
These possibilities merit further research.
Childhood conscientiousness remained significantly related to
mortality risk when (adult) health behavior and education were
controlled. The adulthood conscientiousness relation to mortality
risk, however, was meaningfully reduced when behavioral and
psychosocial variables were controlled, perhaps due in part to
more contemporaneous measurement. In particular, smoking be-
havior and education level were most relevant, at least for the
portion of the sample with complete data on the adulthood control
Because of the dramatic decrease in sample size due to missing data on
smoking, Models 2, 4, and 6 were also calculated with smoking eliminated
from the equation. For Model 2 (n 1,011 vs. 642), the relative hazard for
conscientiousness remained unchanged at 0.81. For Model 4 (n 965 vs.
527), the relative hazard for conscientiousness was 0.89 (vs. 0.90) and was
marginally significant ( p .10). For Model 6 (n 1,018 vs. 578), the
relative hazard for cheerfulness was 0.93 (vs. 0.91) and nonsignificant.
40 45 50 5
Probability of Death
Consistent Conscientious
ness Scores
Inconsistent Conscientiousness Scores
Low-High High-
Low-Low High-High
Figure 3. Estimated probability of a Terman participant’s dying (1950–2000) by a given age, by conscien-
tiousness at two time points.
variables. Given the well-established links between smoking and
mortality risk, it is not surprising that smoking (inversely corre-
lated with conscientiousness) explains a portion of the
conscientiousness–mortality link in this sample. With regard to
education, the fact that achievement striving constituted part of the
adult conscientiousness assessment may have reduced the capacity
of conscientiousness to relate to mortality risk when education was
controlled. Alternatively, those with less education may have
experienced more stress throughout adulthood, with a cumulative
effect on mortality risk.
Aside from conscientiousness, other personality characteristics
gave hints of their possible relevance. Childhood cheerfulness,
although now shown to predict increased risk across 7 decades, did
not remain a reliable risk factor in the smaller subsample with data
on potential adult explanatory variables, either before or after those
variables were controlled (this is consistent with our prior findings;
see Martin et al., 2002). For boys, permanency of mood remained
a significant predictor (with more labile males being at higher risk)
and did not appear to function through the pathways of mental
health or education. Permanency of mood was not significantly
correlated with smoking, alcohol use, risk taking, or BMI.
We confirmed and extended earlier analyses that showed no
simple relation between mortality risk and midlife neuroticism or
extraversion. This may be because these personality dimensions
interact with other aspects of life situations. For example, when
people are surrounded by a social circle of smokers and drinkers,
the extraverted may be more likely to partake. Similarly, neurot-
icism may sometimes make one either helpfully cautious (worry-
ing and running to the doctor) or unhelpfully stress prone (over-
encountering and overreacting to life’s tribulations; see Friedman,
2000, 2007). Agreeableness, which had previously been related to
decreased mortality risk through 1991, demonstrated only a
weaker and nonsignificant trend when examined through 2000
(rh 0.94, ns). Thus, the Terman data provide some tantalizing
hints about the possible relevance of agreeableness, but these
effects are weaker and perhaps more complicated than those of
This sample, employing our multiyear follow-ups on the Ter-
man data, provides the first detailed life span prospective look at
personality and longevity. Few longitudinal studies of individual
differences and health are based on a true random sample of the
population, and the important question of generality that arises
should not be whether any results are fully generalizable (as they
usually are not); rather, the focus should be on the likely limits on
generality and the purposes for which the results are best used. The
Terman data set is especially valuable in helping to avoid over-
looking important relationships (i.e., making Type II errors); that
is, it helps uncover phenomena that might not be recognizable in
cross-sectional studies or in studies of shorter duration. Further,
the Terman sample is relatively homogeneous on dimensions of
intelligence and social class; a resulting advantage is that these
people had the ability to understand medical advice, had opportu-
nities for physical activity, and had routine health care. The sample
thus allows a clearer focus on the effects of certain psychosocial
variables than would studies on more heterogeneous samples.
The homogeneous nature of the sample with respect to intelli-
gence obviously restricts the range on intellect (openness), but our
published studies of the past decade show that there is a more than
adequate range of most individual differences; that is, the sample
was not selected on the basis of personality, and it is not homo-
geneous with regard to personality. Analyses by P. S. Sears (1979)
showed that attrition has not significantly changed the makeup of
the group with respect to a variety of demographic characteristics,
including age, income, and education, and other research has
confirmed that participants in the Terman sample are similar to
other bright, middle-class cohorts (R. R. Sears, 1984; Subotnik,
Table 2
Correlations of Personality Predictors With Potentially Explanatory Variables
Variable Child con Child cheer Child perm mood Adult con
Alcohol .13
.03 (1,136) .15
Men .11
.08 (642) .02 (642) .22
Women .12
.06 (494) .06 (494) .13
Smoking .13
.02 (691) .17
Men .15
.01 (359) .20
Women .10 (332) .15
.05 (332) .16
BMI .03 (1,064) .03 (1,064) .02 (1,064) .06 (1,041)
Men .04 (590) .00 (590) .02 (590) .03 (577)
Women .03 (474) .04 (474) .01 (474) .01 (464)
Risk taking .03 (1,253) .07
.01 (1,253) .01 (1,072)
Men .01 (706) .08
.01 (706) .01 (600)
Women .04 (547) .04 (547) .04 (547) .01 (472)
Mental health .04 (1,248) .09
Men .09
.08 (711) .11
Women .02 (537) .09 (537) .01 (537) .10
Education .15
.01 (1089) .10
Men .16
.01 (614) .08 (614) .12
Women .17
.02 (475) .11
Note. Numbers in parentheses are ns. Higher values for personality predictors indicate more of the construct
or behavior. Child con childhood conscientiousness; Child cheer childhood cheerfulness; Child perm
mood childhood permanency of mood; Adult con adult conscientiousness; BMI body mass index.
p .05.
p .01.
p .001.
Karp, & Morgan, 1989). Caution is needed in generalizing from
this or any single sample, especially when cultural or cohort-
sensitive variables are likely to affect a particular relationship; this
data set is most valuable when used as a complement to the
findings of other research, and its effect sizes are not directly
generalizable to the current U.S. population.
Personality characteristics were assessed differently in child-
hood and adulthood, and indexes were constructed after the fact,
using the best available information. These factors almost certainly
attenuate the associations of these variables with one another and
with mortality risk. If comprehensive personality measures, such
as are available today, had been administered at each time point, it
is quite possible that the observed associations between conscien-
tiousness and mortality risk would be even stronger.
In terms of explanatory pathways, missing data on one or more
of the control variables resulted in various exclusions from the
final analyses. In some cases, the full models incorporating these
control variables included only about half of the participants from
the initial models. These exclusions decrease the power and per-
haps the generalizability of the analyses, particularly in cases
where four or five control variables are present. The present
findings, although based on hard-to-obtain data, are therefore most
useful for orienting future theorizing and research and for focusing
shorter term biopsychosocial explorations of personality, behavior,
adaptation, and health.
The ways in which personality relates to longevity are not
simple, but this study provides striking evidence of the importance
of the personality dimension of conscientiousness over a 70-year
period. Complementing the recent results of other studies (e.g.,
Caspi et al., 2003; Christensen et al., 2002; Roberts & Bogg, 2004;
Roberts et al., 2003; Weiss & Costa, 2005), our finding that a key
individual-difference variable predicts a key outcome (longevity)
many decades into the future strongly suggests that attention to the
genetic, psychosocial, life-pathway, and physiological aspects of
conscientiousness is now warranted. In terms of underlying psy-
chophysiological third variables, studies hint that serotonin func-
tion may be relevant (Manuck et al., 1998; Wand et al., 2002;
Williams et al., 2004), as serotonergic functioning influences vari-
ations in impulse control. Conscientiousness clearly has far-
reaching implications and is likely one of the core health-relevant
personality dimensions in humans.
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Table 3
Personality Predictors Controlling for Behavioral and
Psychosocial Variables
Personality Predictor brhp
Model 1 (n 1,253)
Sex 0.31 0.74 .001
Child conscientiousness 0.21 0.81 .001
Model 2 (n 642)
Sex 0.33 0.72 .01
Child conscientiousness 0.21 0.81 .01
Alcohol use 0.01 1.01 ns
Smoking 0.30 1.35 .001
Education 0.13 0.88 ns
Model 3 (n 1,072)
Sex 0.27 0.76 .001
Adult conscientiousness 0.20 0.82 .001
Model 4 (n 527)
Sex 0.30 0.74 .05
Adult conscientiousness 0.10 0.90 ns
Alcohol use 0.07 1.07 ns
Smoking 0.30 1.35 .001
BMI 0.05 1.05 ns
Education 0.17 0.85 ns
Mental health 0.04 0.95 ns
Model 5 (n 1,253)
Sex 0.31 0.74 .001
Child cheerfulness 0.12 1.13 .05
Model 6 (n 578)
Sex 0.22 0.80 ns
Child cheerfulness 0.10 0.91 ns
Alcohol use 0.04 1.04 ns
Smoking 0.37 1.45 .001
Risk taking 0.16 0.85 ns
Mental health 0.10 0.90 ns
Model 7 (n 706, males only)
Child permanency of mood 0.12 0.89 .05
Model 8 (n 522, males only)
Child permanency of mood 0.23 0.80 .01
Mental health 0.19 0.83 ns
Education 0.24 0.78 .001
Note. Ns for analyses differ because of missing data per variable (espe-
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... The existing literature provides some evidence that the two additional Big Five personality traits, openness to experience and agreeableness, are also associated with cognitive aging processes and mortality (e.g., Aschwanden et al., 2020;Stephan et al., 2021;Williams et al., 2010). These associations, however, tend to be less consistent both between (e.g., Duberstein et al., 2011;Iwasa et al., 2008;Jokela et al., 2013;Martin et al., 2007;Wilson et al., 2004) and within (e.g., Graham et al., 2017) studies, as well as between studies using the same data set (e.g., Martin et al. 2007;Martin & Friedman, 2000). Given the inconsistencies, and because the selected data set for this study was ideal for the analytic approach in numerous ways but did not collect data on openness or agreeableness, the present study focuses on conscientiousness, neuroticism, and extraversion. ...
... The existing literature provides some evidence that the two additional Big Five personality traits, openness to experience and agreeableness, are also associated with cognitive aging processes and mortality (e.g., Aschwanden et al., 2020;Stephan et al., 2021;Williams et al., 2010). These associations, however, tend to be less consistent both between (e.g., Duberstein et al., 2011;Iwasa et al., 2008;Jokela et al., 2013;Martin et al., 2007;Wilson et al., 2004) and within (e.g., Graham et al., 2017) studies, as well as between studies using the same data set (e.g., Martin et al. 2007;Martin & Friedman, 2000). Given the inconsistencies, and because the selected data set for this study was ideal for the analytic approach in numerous ways but did not collect data on openness or agreeableness, the present study focuses on conscientiousness, neuroticism, and extraversion. ...
... Similarly, higher agreeableness may be associated with cognitive decline (Aschwanden et al., 2020;Stephan et al., 2021;Williams et al., 2010) and mortality (Graham et al., 2017;Jackson et al., 2015). However, additional research suggests that the direction and significance of these associations are less consistent across studies (e.g., Duberstein et al., 2011;Iwasa et al., 2008;Jokela et al., 2013;Martin et al., 2007;Wilson et al., 2004), suggesting less predictive value for cognitive aging processes and mortality compared to conscientiousness, neuroticism, and extraversion. It is possible, however, that the inconsistencies in the literature stem from nonlinear associations, or previous research focusing on either cognitive processes or mortality, without adjusting for the other as a competing risk. ...
Research suggests that personality traits are associated with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia, and mortality risk, but the timing of when traits are most important in the progression to dementia and the extent to which they are associated with years of cognitive health span are unclear. This project applied secondary data analysis to the Rush Memory and Aging Project (N = 1954; baseline Mage = 80 years; 74% female) over up to 23 annual assessments. Multistate survival modeling examined the extent to which conscientiousness, neuroticism, and extraversion, assessed using the NEO Five Factor Inventory, were associated with transitions between cognitive status categories and death. Additionally, multinomial regression models estimated cognitive health span and total survival based on standard deviation units of personality traits. Adjusting for demographics, depressive symptoms, and apolipoprotein (APOE) ε4, personality traits were most important in the transition from no cognitive impairment (NCI) to MCI. For instance, higher conscientiousness was associated with a decreased risk of transitioning from NCI to MCI, hazard ratio (HR) = 0.78, 95% CI [0.72, 0.85] and higher neuroticism was associated with an increased risk of transitioning from NCI to MCI, HR = 1.12, 95% CI [1.04, 1.21]. Additional significant and nonsignificant results are discussed in the context of the existing literature. While personality traits were not associated with total longevity, individuals higher in conscientiousness and extraversion, and lower in neuroticism, had more years of cognitive health span, particularly female participants. These findings provide novel understanding of the simultaneous associations between personality traits and transitions between cognitive status categories and death, as well as cognitive health span and total longevity. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Optimism, or the general expectation that good things will happen, is another well-studied personality measure consistently associated with downstream health outcomes. Similar to conscientiousness, low optimism has been linked to poor global sleep quality scores and depression (De Vries & Van Heck, 2002;Klein, Kotov, & Bufferd, 2011;Martin, Friedman, & Schwartz, 2007;Smagula et al., 2016). Additionally, in the Women's Health Initiative measurement of cardiovascular disease, optimists had a decreased risk of coronary heart disease and mortality compared to pessimists (Tindle et al., 2009). ...
Objective Examine the association between personality measures and perceived mental fatigability. Methods We performed a cross-sectional analysis in N=1670 men, age 84.3±4.1 years. Multivariable linear regression models were used to examine the covariate adjusted association between personality measures (conscientiousness, optimism, goal reengagement, and goal disengagement) and perceived mental fatigability (measured with the validated 10-item Pittsburgh Fatigability Scale, PFS). Results One standard deviation lower conscientiousness (β=−0.91, p<.0001) and optimism (β=−0.63, p<.0001), and higher goal reengagement (β=0.51, p=.01) scores were independently associated with higher PFS Mental scores adjusted for age, cognitive function, self-reported health status, depressive symptoms, sleep disturbance, physical activity, and goal disengagement. Discussion Lower conscientiousness, optimism, and higher goal reengagement were linked with more severe perceived mental fatigability in older men. Personality traits may potentially contribute to early risk assessment for fatigability in later life. Future work should be longitudinal in nature and include personality assessments to confirm the temporality of the relationships observed.
... Gendered socialization patterns that train women to be more sensitive to the social costs attached to nonreligious beliefs may also encourage the risk-religion relationship (Edgell, Frost, and Stewart 2017). Djupe and Friesen (2017) find that women high in the Big Five trait of conscientiousness (which has also been linked to risk aversion, see Martin, Friedman, and Schwartz 2007), channel their sense of obligation into religious activities, and unlike for men, these activities do not result in the development of civic skills for women. ...
Risk aversion dampens political participation and heightens religiosity, with concentrated effects among women. Yet, little is known about how intersecting identities moderate these psychological correlates of religiosity and political engagement. In this paper, we theorize that the risk-religion-politics relationship is gendered and racialized. Using a nationally representative survey, we show that political participation is more strongly correlated with risk for Black women than for any other race-gender group. For religiosity, however, we find little evidence that risk is related to religiosity among Black women, while highly correlated with white women's religious engagement. For men—whether Black or white—risk exhibits a modest, positive relationship with their religiosity. Our results speak to the importance of considering intersectionality and race-gender identities in evaluations of religious and political activities in the United States.
... For testing group differences, we selected variables from several theoretical domains that have a history of empirical validation for predicting smoking and other substance use in adolescence; these include antisocial behavior and low academic competence, 25,26 psychiatric symptomatology and illicit drug use, 27 and cognitive protective factors, such as conscientiousness and health-protective behavior. [28][29][30] Extending from previous findings that exclusive users of e-cigarettes have a lower risk profile than dual users do, 15,16 we hypothesized that exclusive users of any substance (including cigarettes and marijuana) would have a lower risk profile compared with dual users. Deriving from the fact that marijuana has historically been illegal in the United States 31,32 and has been linked in longitudinal studies to more adverse outcomes in the domains of antisocial behavior, interpersonal relationships, and educational attainment, 33 we hypothesized that groups including marijuana use would have a higher risk profile than groups that did not. ...
Objective: Subgroups of adolescent single and dual e-cigarette and cigarette users have been identified, but usage patterns have changed in recent years, and there has been an increase in marijuana use. Research is needed with current data to identify subgroups of use including marijuana and determine their behavioral correlates. Methods: We cross classified ever and recent use of e-cigarettes, combustible cigarettes, and marijuana among US high school students in the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), providing 8 different groups. Levels of 14 risk and protective factors were compared across groups in general linear models with demographic covariates using omnibus tests, pairwise comparisons, and planned contrasts. Replicability was tested through identical analyses for 2017 YRBS data. Results: The nonuser group was 43.9% of the sample. The most frequent user groups were triple users (ever-use proportion: 16.9%), dual (e-cigarette and marijuana) users (15.8%), and exclusive e-cigarette users (13.2%). For risk profiles on levels of psychosocial variables, the triple-user group was typically elevated above all other groups. Exclusive e-cigarette users were above nonusers in risk profile but below dual users (both cigarettes and marijuana). Results were similar for ever use and recent use. The patterning of results in 2019 YRBS data were closely replicated in 2017 YRBS data. Conclusions: Co-occurrence of e-cigarette, cigarette, and marijuana use is currently substantial among adolescents and is associated with an elevated psychosocial risk profile. This has implications for both epidemiology and prevention studies. Further research is needed to study prevalence and identify pathways to triple use.
Decades of studies identify personality traits as prospectively associated with life outcomes. However, previous investigations of personality characteristic-outcome associations have not taken a principled approach to covariate use or other sampling strategies to ensure the robustness of personality-outcome associations. The result is that it is unclear (a) whether personality characteristics are associated with important outcomes after accounting for a range of background variables, (b) for whom and when personality-outcome associations hold, and (c) that background variables are most important to account for. The present study examines the robustness and boundary conditions of personality-outcome associations using prospective Big Five associations with 14 health, social, education/work, and societal outcomes across eight different person- and study-level moderators using individual participant data from 171,395 individuals across 10 longitudinal panel studies in a mega-analytic framework. Robustness and boundary conditions were systematically tested using two approaches: propensity score matching and specification curve analysis. Three findings emerged: First, personality characteristics remain robustly associated with later life outcomes. Second, the effects generalize, as there are few moderators of personality-outcome associations. Third, robustness was differential across covariate choice in nearly half of the tested models, with the inclusion or exclusion of some of these flipping the direction of association. In summary, personality characteristics are robustly associated with later life outcomes with few moderated associations. However, researchers still need to be careful in their choices of covariates. We discuss how these findings can inform studies of personality-outcome associations, as well as recommendations for covariate inclusion. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
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Smart economy has emerged as part of the smart city framework to encourage urban growth which the urban population currently lives in a digital society. The smart economy has emerged as part of the smart city framework to encourage urban growth. However, with technological and economic shifts brought about by globalization, cities are now facing the challenges of simultaneously sustaining productivity and sustainable urban development. The objectives of the study were to identify the smart economy concept for a smart city and examine the elements of smart economy in Pengerang. The study has conducted by using a mixed method. The data have collected by using questionnaires, document reviews and observations. The results showed that respondents fully understood the concept of smart economy that enables, encourages and stimulates economic activity in Pengerang. Besides, there will be future strategies and initiatives in order to encourage people to implement the smart economy. The implications of this study show that people need to pay attention to the issues and strategies that have been proposed by the government to implement and promote the smart economy toward a smart city.
Rationale Although perceived discrimination (PD) is known to be associated with personality traits, family background characteristics may confound this association. Moreover, little is known about whether the relationship differs by gender. Objective This study investigates whether the association between PD and personality traits is confounded by family background characteristics. Given gender differences in contexts and perceptions of discrimination as well as personality traits, this study also explores whether the association between PD and personality traits differs for men and women. Methods Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, this study examines the association between PD and Big Five personality traits among young adults. This study uses sibling fixed effects models with a lagged dependent variable to account for unobservable family-level characteristics, such as genetics, parental characteristics, family environment, and childhood social contexts. Results Sibling fixed effects estimates showed that PD was associated with lower levels of conscientiousness and extraversion and higher levels of neuroticism. There were also gender differences such that PD was associated with lower conscientiousness only for women and lower extraversion only for men. The positive association with neuroticism was apparent for both men and women. Conclusion This study suggests that the association between PD and personality traits is generally not confounded by stable family-level characteristics shared by siblings. This study also documents gender differences in the relationship between PD and personality traits. Given substantial implications of personality for a broad range of outcomes, especially among young adults, the findings of this study reaffirm the commitment of the whole society to eradicate any form of discrimination.
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Three different measures of the Big Five personality dimensions were developed from the battery of questionnaires used in the National Merit Twin Study: one from trait self-rating scales, one from personality inventory items, and one from an adjective check list. Behavior-genetic models were fit to what the three measures had in common, and to the variance distinctive to each. The results of the model fitting agreed with other recent studies in showing the Big Five dimensions to be substantially and about equally heritable, with little or no contribution of shared family environment. Heritabilities for males and females did not differ significantly. For Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, some effect of shared environment was found for measure-specific variance on the personality inventory, and for Extraversion and Neuroticism, models involving nonadditive genetic variance or twin contrast effects provided slightly better fits.
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Under some conditions, cheerfulness promotes health, but cheerfulness also has been associated with unfavorable health outcomes. This study follows up the inverse relation between childhood cheerfulness and longevity found among 1,215 men and women first assessed as children by Lewis Terman in 1922. Risky hobbies, smoking, drinking, and obesity, as well as cause of death, are examined, along with adulthood personality and adjustment. Several hypotheses about mediating variables can be eliminated by these analyses; these data do hint, however, that cheerful children grow up to be more careless about their health. Although correlational and survival analyses suggest that health behaviors play a role, they are unable to explain the observed cheerfulness-mortality link, thus supporting the idea that cheerfulness is multifaceted and should not be assumed to be related to health in a simple manner.
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In this article we review answers to 5 questions concerning the development of personality across the life course: How early in the life course can we identify characteristics unique to individuals that will show continuity over time? When in the life course is personality fully developed? What life course factors moderate continuity and change in personality? What are the mechanisms that promote continuity in personality? And finally, what are the mechanisms that promote change in personality? Based on the answers to these 5 questions we conclude (a) that there is modest continuity from childhood to adulthood, (b) that personality traits do not become fixed at a certain age in adulthood and retain the possibility of change even into old age, and (c) that with time and age people become more adept at interacting with their environment such that personality consistency increases with age and is more common than change in midlife and old age.
Hunter College Elementary School has been a laboratory school for intellectually gifted children since 1941. One hundred fifty‐six men and women from the first 12 graduating classes completed a slightly modified version of Terman and Oden's midlife questionnaire. This study compares the responses by Terman subjects and the Hunter subjects to items describing occupational, marital, health, and political status, as well as what they find satisfying and important.The authors acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Brondi Borer, the Parents Association of Hunter College Elementary School, Paula Diamond, Donna Shalala, the Schuster Foundation, the University Computing Center and the Inter‐University Consortium for Political and Social Research.
describes . . . a descriptive model, the "Big Five" dimensions of personality description, derived from analyses of the natural-language terms people use to describe themselves and others describes the history of the lexical approach and the discovery of the five dimensions / presents more recent research replicating and extending this model, both in English and in several other languages present a consensual definition of the five dimensions, which I [the author] then use . . . to discuss numerous other dimensions of personality, temperament, mood, and interpersonal behavior proposed by researchers outside the lexical tradition address some criticisms of the Big Five structure, and discuss problems and issues that still await resolution (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This study prospectively addresses whether aspects of the childhood home environment (SES and parental divorce) and personality are predictive of smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity in middle adulthood. Subjects were 972 males and females who participated in the Terman Life-Cycle Study. Results of hierarchical regression analyses indicated that childhood unconscientiousness, cheerfulness, and parental divorce predicted adult smoking. Childhood unconscientiousness and sociability predicted adult alcohol consumption. Physical activity was predicted by a higher energy/activity level in childhood. Results suggest that the previously found associations between childhood characteristics and health-related behaviors over shorter periods are not simply reflective of early experimentation with such behaviors, but may be indicative of long-term lifestyle patterns.
There is now little doubt that individuals who are well-adjusted, socially stable, and well-integrated into their communities are at significantly lower risk for disease and premature mortality than those who are more unstable, impulsive, isolated, and alienated. The reasons for these associations, however, are complex and the pathways insufficiently studied. This article employs a life-span data set to explore how childhood personality relates to health-related growth and development (dynamisms), patterns of reactions and health behaviors (mechanisms), and movements toward and away from suitable environments (tropisms). Illustrations from the 7-decade Terman longitudinal data reveal important areas in which previous, cross-sectional research has misinterpreted associations between personality and health. In particular, Sociability has been overrated as a life-span health risk factor, Conscientiousness has been underrated, and Neuroticism has been confused. Without sufficient attention to the processes underlying the associations between personality and health, significant suboptimal allocations of intervention resources result.
ABSTRACT The genetic and environmental etiology of the five-factor model of personality as measured by the revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) was assessed using 123 pairs of identical twins and 127 pairs of fraternal twins. Broad genetic influence on the five dimensions of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness was estimated at 41%, 53%, 61%, 41%, and 44%, respectively. The facet scales also showed substantial heritability, although for several facets the genetic influence was largely nonadditive. The influence of the environment was consistent across all dimensions and facets. Shared environmental influences accounted for a negligible proportion of the variance in most scales, whereas nonshared environmental influences accounted for the majority of the environmental variance in all scales.