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We examined associations between personality traits measured in 1958 and both all-cause and cause-specific mortality assessed 45 years later in 2003. Participants were 1862 middle-age men employed by the Western Electric Company. Outcomes were days to death from all-causes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and causes other than circulatory diseases, cancer, accidents/homicide/suicides, or injuries (other causes). Measures in 1958 included age, education, health behaviors, biomedical risk factors, and nine content factors identified in the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Four content factors---neuroticism, cynicism, extraversion, and intellectual interests---were related to the Five-Factor Model domains of neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, and openness, respectively. The remaining five---psychoticism, masculinity versus femininity, religious orthodoxy, somatic complaints, and inadequacy---corresponded to the Five-Factor Model’s facets and styles (combinations of two domains) or were unrelated to the Five-Factor Model. In age-adjusted and fully-adjusted models, cynicism was associated with greater all-cause and cancer mortality. In fully-adjusted models, inadequacy was associated with lower all-cause mortality and lower mortality from other causes. In age-adjusted models, religious orthodoxy was associated with lower cancer mortality. Further analyses revealed that the association between cynicism and all-cause mortality waned over time. Exploratory analyses of death from any disease of the circulatory system revealed no further associations. These findings reveal the importance of cynicism (disagreeableness) as a mortality risk factor, show that cynicism-mortality associations are limited to certain periods of the lifespan, and highlight the need to study personality styles or types, such as inadequacy, that involve high neuroticism, low extraversion, and low conscientiousness.
- Western Electric
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