Childhood Misfortune, Personality, and Heart Attack: Does Personality Mediate Risk of Myocardial Infarction?

Patricia M. Morton*, Nicholas A. Turiano, Daniel K. Mroczek, Kenneth F. Ferraro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective Previous research has revealed a link between childhood experiences and adult health, but the mechanisms underlying this relationship are less clear. To elucidate this relationship, we investigated the pathway from childhood misfortune to nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI) via individual differences in personality. Method Longitudinal data were drawn from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States, which sampled 3,032 men and women aged 25-74 years at baseline. Big 5 personality traits and multiple measures of childhood misfortune were used to assess whether personality mediated the effect of childhood misfortune on MI risk. Results A series of proportional hazards models revealed that neuroticism mediated the effect of additive childhood misfortune on adult MI risk. Discussion Childhood misfortune may be formative in the development of personality, which, subsequently, can be consequential to health. These findings highlight the salient roles of early-life experiences and personality to shape health and aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-835
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 14 2018


  • Childhood misfortune
  • Life course
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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