When Is Higher Neuroticism Protective Against Death? Findings From UK Biobank

Catharine R. Gale, Iva Čukić, G. David Batty, Andrew M. McIntosh, Alexander Weiss, Ian J. Deary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We examined the association between neuroticism and mortality in a sample of 321,456 people from UK Biobank and explored the influence of self-rated health on this relationship. After adjustment for age and sex, a 1-SD increment in neuroticism was associated with a 6% increase in all-cause mortality (hazard ratio = 1.06, 95% confidence interval = [1.03, 1.09]). After adjustment for other covariates, and, in particular, self-rated health, higher neuroticism was associated with an 8% reduction in all-cause mortality (hazard ratio = 0.92, 95% confidence interval = [0.89, 0.95]), as well as with reductions in mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease, but not external causes. Further analyses revealed that higher neuroticism was associated with lower mortality only in those people with fair or poor self-rated health, and that higher scores on a facet of neuroticism related to worry and vulnerability were associated with lower mortality. Research into associations between personality facets and mortality may elucidate mechanisms underlying neuroticism’s covert protection against death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1345-1357
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
Early online date13 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • neuroticism
  • self-rated health
  • mortality
  • cohort study


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