Personality trait level and change as predictors of health outcomes: Findings from a national study of Americans (MIDUS)

Nicholas A. Turiano*, Lindsay Pitzer, Cherie Armour, Arun Karlamangla, Carol D. Ryff, Daniel K. Mroczek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives.Personality traits predict numerous health outcomes, but previous studies have rarely used personality change to predict health.Methods.The current investigation utilized a large national sample of 3,990 participants from the Midlife in the U.S. study (MIDUS) to examine if both personality trait level and personality change longitudinally predict 3 different health outcomes (i.e., self-rated physical health, self-reported blood pressure, and number of days limited at work or home due to physical health reasons) over a 10-year span.Results.Each of the Big Five traits, except openness, predicted self-rated health. Change in agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion also predicted self-rated health. Trait levels of conscientiousness and neuroticism level predicted self-reported blood pressure. All trait levels except agreeableness predicted number of work days limited. Only change in conscientiousness predicted the number of work days limited.Discussion.Findings demonstrate that a full understanding of the link between personality and health requires consideration of trait change as well as trait level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-12
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume67 B
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Keywords

  • Health
  • Longitudinal change
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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