PSYC 2P25 October 5, 2012
Personality and Life Outcomes
How does personality “matter” in life?
Personality and Longevity
Which personality traits predict longer life?
Friedman et al. (1993, 1995): compared ratings of children’s personalities (by adults during
1920s) with later data on eventual age of death (and cause of death)
o “Social conscientiousness” -> dependability, responsibility
o Mood stability
Found that longer life was related to
o Social conscientiousness (positively)
o Cheerfulness (negatively)
o (difference of about 5 years on average between 75 and 25 percentiles of the traits)
o Why did people high in social conscientiousness tend to live longer?
Injuries? Persons high in Soc. Consc. were less likely to die from injuries, but few
people died from injuries, so this is not the main reason
Obesity? No; Soc. Consc. wasn’t related to obesity
Smoking and drinking? High soc-consc people smoked and drank less, and both
smoking and drinking predicted earlier death; however, effect of Soc. Consc.
wasn’t mainly due to smoking and drinking
Reason for relation between Soc. Consc. is unlear..
Better stress coping (more prepared)?
More social support (closer relationships)?
Many health behaviours combined?
o Why did people high in cheerfulness tend to live less long?
Cheerfulness wasn’t much related to smoking, drinking, etc
Maybe cheerful people were too optimistic about health -> tended to neglect
developing health problems? (Don’t know)
Contrary to Friedman et al. results, a study of nuns (Danner et al., 2001) found that “positive
emotion” in written autobiographies (age 22) predicted longer lifespan *findings for discrepant
findings not clear] PSYC 2P25 October 5, 2012
Not about “Type A Personality”
Some MDs suggested that many heart attack patients had similar personality – called “Type A”
“Type A” assessed using structured interviews and self-reports. Three parts”
o Time urgency
Research in 1980s:
o Only the Hostility part of Type A is strongly associated with heart disease (Achievement
may even help in recovery)
Why is Hostility related to heart disease?
o When feeling hostile, blood pressure rises and stress hormones are released causing
small tears within blood vessels which can then trap fat molecules that narrow the
vessels and constrict blood flow
Personality and Marital Satisfaction
How does a person’s marital satisfaction relate to..
His or her own personality?
His or her spouses’ personality?
Are spouses sim