Title: Big five personality traits may inform public health policy and preventive medicine : evidence from a cross-sectional and a prospective longitudinal epidemiologic study in a Swiss community
Authors : Hengartner, Michael Pascal
Kawohl, Wolfram
Haker, Helene
Rössler, Wulf
Ajdacic-Gross, Vladeta
Published in : Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume(Issue) : 84
Pages : 44
Pages to: 51
Publisher / Ed. Institution : Elsevier Inc.
Issue Date: 2016
License (according to publishing contract) : Licence according to publishing contract
Type of review: Peer review (Publication)
Language : English
Subjects : Personality; Big five; Psychopathology; Epidemiology; Public health; Preventive medicine
Subject (DDC) : 155: Differential and developmental psychology
610: Medicine and health
Abstract: Background: Some evidence documents the importance of personality assessments for health research and practise. However, no study has opted to test whether a short self-report personality inventory may comprehensively inform health policy. Methods: Data were taken from a population-based epidemiologic survey in Zurich, Switzerland, conducted from 2010–2012. A short form of the Big Five Inventory was completed by n = 1155 participants (54.4% women; mean age = 29.6 years), while health-related outcomes were taken from a comprehensive semi-structured clinical interview. A convenience subsample averaging n = 171 participants additionally provided laboratory measures and n = 133 were subsequently followed-up at least once over a maximal period of 6 months. Results: Personality traits, in particular high neuroticism and low conscientiousness, related significantly to poor environmental resources such as low social support (R2 = 0.071), health-impairing behaviours such as cannabis use (R2 = 0.071), and psychopathology, including negative affect (R2 = 0.269) and various mental disorders (R2 = 0.060–0.195). The proportion of total variance explained was R2 = 0.339 in persons with three or more mental disorders. Personality significantly related to some laboratory measures including total cholesterol (R2 = 0.095) and C-Reactive Protein (R2 = 0.062). Finally, personality prospectively predicted global psychopathological distress and vegetative symptoms over a 6-month observation period. Conclusions: Personality relates consistently to poor socio-environmental resources, health-impairing behaviours and psychopathology. We also found some evidence for an association with metabolic and immune functions that are assumed to influence health. A short personality inventory could provide valuable information for preventive medicine when used as a means to screen entire populations for distinct risk exposure, in particular with respect to psychopathology.
Departement: Angewandte Psychologie
Publication type: Article in scientific Journal
DOI : 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2016.03.012
ISSN: 0022-3999
URI: https://digitalcollection.zhaw.ch/handle/11475/2267
Appears in Collections:Publikationen Angewandte Psychologie

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