Five Factor Model Personality Traits and All-Cause Mortality in the Edinburgh Artery Study Cohort

Michelle D. Taylor, Martha C. Whiteman, Gerald R. Fowkes, Amanda Jane Lee, Michael Allerhand, Ian J. Deary

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Objective: To examine whether personality traits are related to all-cause mortality in a general adult population in Scotland. Methods: The Edinburgh Artery Study began in 1987 to 1988 by recruiting 1592 men and women aged 55 to 74 years to be followed-up for atherosclerotic diseases. The NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) was completed by 1035 surviving participants in 1995 to 1996. Deaths from all causes were examined in relation to personality traits and social and physical risk factors for mortality. Results: During follow-up, 242 (37.1%) men and 165 (24.6%) women died. For the whole sample, there was a 28% lower rate of all-cause mortality for each 1 SD increase in NEO-FFI openness (95% CI, 0.61-0.84) and a 18% lower rate of all-cause mortality for each I SD increase in NEO-FFI conscientiousness (95% CI, 0.70-0.97). In men, the risk of all-cause mortality was 0.63 (95% CI, 0.5-10.78) for a 1 SD increase in openness and 0.75 (95% CI, 0.61-0.91) for a 1 SD increase in conscientiousness. In women, none of the personality domains were significantly associated with all-cause mortality. Well fitting structural equation models in men (n = 652) showed that the relationships between conscientiousness and openness and all-cause mortality were not substantially explained by smoking, or other variables in the models. Conclusion: High conscientiousness and openness may be protective against all-cause mortality in men. Further investigations are needed on the mechanisms of these associations, and the influence of personality traits on specific causes of death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-641
Number of pages11
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • personality
  • Five-Factor Model
  • all-cause mortality
  • cohort
  • mental survey 1932
  • general-population
  • health behaviors
  • older persons
  • childhood IQ
  • disease
  • conscientiousness
  • longevity
  • openess
  • life


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