Vital personality scores and healthy aging: Life-course associations and familial transmission

Jasmin Wertz, Salomon Israel, Louise Arseneault, Daniel W. Belsky, Kyle J. Bourassa, Honalee Harrington, Renate Houts, Richie Poulton, Leah S. Richmond-rakerd, Espen Røysamb, Terrie E. Moffitt, Avshalom Caspi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objectives
Personality traits are linked with healthy aging, but it is not clear how these associations come to manifest across the life-course and across generations. To study this question, we tested a series of hypotheses about (a) personality-trait prediction of markers of healthy aging across the life-course, (b) developmental origins, stability and change of links between personality and healthy aging across time, and (c) intergenerational transmission of links between personality and healthy aging. For our analyses we used a measure that aggregates the contributions of Big 5 personality traits to healthy aging: a “vital personality” score.

Methods
Data came from two population-based longitudinal cohort studies, one based in New Zealand and the other in the UK, comprising over 6000 study members across two generations, and spanning an age range from birth to late life.

Results
Our analyses revealed three main findings: first, individuals with higher vital personality scores engaged in fewer health-risk behaviors, aged slower, and lived longer. Second, individuals’ vital personality scores were preceded by differences in early-life temperament and were relatively stable across adulthood, but also increased from young adulthood to midlife. Third, individuals with higher vital personality scores had children with similarly vital partners, promoted healthier behaviors in their children, and had children who grew up to have more vital personality scores themselves, for genetic and environmental reasons.

Conclusion
Our study shows how the health benefits associated with personality accrue throughout the life-course and across generations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114283
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume285
Early online date30 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • personality
  • mortality
  • health
  • life-course
  • Big 5

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