OBJECTIVE: To investigate associations between personality facets and survival during an 8-year follow-up.
METHODS: In 597 Medicare recipients (age, 66-102 years) followed up for approximately 8 years, personality domains and facets were assessed using the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R). This study builds on a previous study which used proportional hazards regression to test whether the NEO-PI-R factor and selected facet scores were associated with mortality risk. That study revealed that the neuroticism facet impulsiveness, agreeableness facet straightforwardness, and conscientiousness facet self-discipline were related to lower risk during 4 years of follow-up. We extended the follow-up period by 4 years, examined all 30 facets, and used accelerated failure time modeling as an additional analytic approach. Unlike proportional hazards regression, accelerated failure time modeling permits inferences about the median survival length conferred by predictors. Each facet was tested in a model that included health-related covariates and NEO-PI-R factor scores for dimensions that did not include that facet.
RESULTS: Over the 8-year follow-up period, impulsiveness was not significant, each standard deviation of straightforwardness was associated with an 11% increase in median survival time and, when dichotomized, higher self-discipline was associated with a 34% increase in median survival time. Each standard deviation of altruism, compliance, tender-mindedness, and openness to fantasy was associated with a 9% to 11% increase in median survival time.
CONCLUSIONS: After extending the follow-up period from 4 to 8 years, self-discipline remained a powerful predictor of survival and facets associated with imagination, generosity, and higher-quality interpersonal interactions become increasingly important.