Background It is unclear if adolescent personality predicts mortality into late life, independent of adolescent socioeconomic status (SES).
Methods Over 26 000 members of Project Talent, a US population cohort of high school students, completed a survey including 10 personality scales and SES in 1960. Multi-source mortality follow-up obtained vital status data through an average 48-year period ending in 2009. Cox proportional hazard models examined the relative risk associated with personality traits, as well as confounding by both a measure of SES and by race/ethnicity.
Results Adjusted for sex and grade, higher levels of vigour, calm, culture, maturity and social sensitivity in high school were associated with reduced mortality risk (HRs=0.92 to. 96), while higher levels of impulsivity were associated with greater mortality risk. Further adjustment for SES and school racial/ethnic composition mildly attenuated (eg, 12%), but did not eliminate these associations. Final HRs for a 1 SD change in personality traits were similar to that for a 1 SD change in SES.
Conclusions Adaptive personality traits in high school are associated with all-cause mortality in the USA as far into the future as the seventh decade, and to a degree similar to high school socioeconomic disadvantage.
- all-cause mortality
- life course epidemiology
- personality traits
- project talent
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Contributors BPC: design, analysis, interpretation, drafting and critical revision. SL, KP, EH, ES, BR: interpretation, drafting, critical revision.
Funding This study was funded by National Institute on Aging (grant number: R01 AG053155).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Ethics approval University of Rochester Medical Center and American Institute for Research IRBs.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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