Personality And Long Term Health

Have you ever wondered if your personality is contributing to your health or lack there of? A Finnish team investigated that question and this is what they rise and fallfound.

The Study: 304 adults (53% males) were administered one of the most popular personality tests (NEO). The traits measured by the test are: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness. The same people were assessed at ages 33, 42, and 50. Subjective (self-rated health, symptoms, psychological distress) and objective (body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides) indicators of health were measured at ages 42 and 50.

From this data, the researchers developed stable profiles of the subjects.


What subjects said……………..

Resilient individuals  (65 of the subjects who were low on Neuroticism low and high on the other traits) had the best subjective health,

Overcontrolled individuals (40 of the subjects who were high on Neuroticism and low on other traits) showed the poorest health over eight years,

Reserved individuals (25 people who scored high on  Conscientiousness and low on other traits), Undercontrolled individuals  (41 subjects who scored high on Openness and Extraversion, low on Conscientiousness), and Ordinary individuals (133 subject who scored in the medium range on all factors) were in the middle of these extremes in subjective health.

What objective health measures said………………….

there were no differences between the profiles in the objective indicators of health.

Conclusions: Overcontrol and resilience were most discriminative in terms of good health. Moreover, personality profiles revealed associations with health to be more nuanced than simply being composed of single traits. High Extraversion needed to be combined with high Conscientiousness (Resilients) in order to be associated with the best health; high Extraversion with low Conscientiousness (Undercontrolled) was associated with average health; and low Extraversion with high Neuroticism (Overcontrolled) was associated with the poorest health.

Did you find yourself in this study?

Source: Kinnunen, M.-L., Metsäpelto, R. L., Feldt, T., Kokko, K., Tolvanen, A., Kinnunen, U., Leppänen, E. & Pulkkinen, L. (2012). Personality profiles and health: Longitudinal evidence among Finnish adults. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 512–522.


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