European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 27–37

Personality and health in middle age as predictors for well-being and health in old age

  • Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello
  • Susanne M. Jaeggi
  • Martin Buschkuehl
  • Hannes B. Stähelin
  • Walter J. Perrig
Original Investigation

Abstract

In research literature, the question to what extent specific personality traits and health functioning in midlife can predict physical and psychological well-being in old age is still discussed controversially. The present study aims to shed light on this issue by using data from the Basel Longitudinal Study on Ageing. Structural equation modelling was performed in order to test the relation between personality dimensions, namely, self-preoccupation and emotional reactivity, as well as cardiovascular functioning (blood pressure) and medication intake (tranquilizer use) in middle age on psychological and physical well-being and health as assessed in old age 24 years later. Results show that high levels of self-preoccupation in middle age are negatively related to psychological and physical well-being in old age, but not to medical diagnoses. In addition, blood pressure and tranquilizer use in middle age predict physical well-being in old age; blood pressure is furthermore related to medical diagnoses. Our findings emphasize the importance for the adoption of a life-span approach and further interdisciplinary prospective studies in order to better predict pathways to well-being and health in old age.

Keywords

Personality Cardiovascular functioning Well-being Health Middle-age Old age 

References

  1. Andrews G, Clark M, Luszcz M (2002) Successful aging in the Australian longitudinal study of aging: applying the MacArthur model cross-nationally. J Soc Issues 58:749–765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arbuckle JL (2006) AMOS user’s guide 7.0. Amos Development Corporation, Spring HouseGoogle Scholar
  3. Baltes PB, Mayer KV (eds) (1999) The Berlin aging study. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Baltes PB, Smith J (2004) Lifespan psychology: from developmental contextualism to developmental biocultural co-constructivism. Res Hum Dev 1:123–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnas C (2003) The influence of somatic conditions on benzodiazepine long-term use. Pharmacopsychiatry 36. doi:10.1055/s-2003-825263
  6. Bogunovic OJ, Greenfield SF (2004) Use of benzodiazepines among elderly patients. Psychiatr Serv 55:233–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carroll D, Ring C, Hunt K, Ford G, Macintyre S (2003) Blood pressure reactions to stress and the prediction of future blood pressure: effects of sex, age, and socioeconomic position. Psychosom Med 65:1058–1064CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chapman BP, Lyness JM, Duberstein P (2007) Personality and medical illness burden among older adults in primary care. Psychosom Med 69:277–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chaudhry SI, Krumholz HM, Foody JM (2004) Systolic hypertension in older persons. JAMA 292:1074–1080CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cloninger CR (2005) How does personality influence mortality in the elderly? Psychosom Med 67:839–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cook JM, Marshall R, Masci C, Coyne JC (2007) Physicians’ perspectives on prescribing benzodiazepines for older adults. J Gen Intern Med 22(3):303–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Costa PT, McCrae RR (1992) Normal personality assessment in clinical practice: the NEO personality inventory. Psychol Assess 4:5–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Costa PT, Metter EJ, McCrae RR (1994) Personality stability and its contribution to successful aging. J Geriatr Psychiatry 27:41–59Google Scholar
  14. DeNeve K, Cooper H (1998) The happy personality: a meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and well-being. Psychol Bull 124:197–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diener E, Suh E (1997) Measuring quality of life: economic, social, and subjective indicators. Soc Indic Res 40:189–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Egan M, Moride Y, Wolfson C, Monette J (2000) Long-term continuous use of benzodiazepines by older adults in Quebec: prevalence, incidence and risk factors. J Am Geriatr Soc 48(7):811–816Google Scholar
  17. Eysenck HJ (1991) Dimensions of personality: 16, 5, or 3? Criteria for a taxonomic paradigm. Pers Individ Dif 12:773–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fahrenberg J, Selg H (1970) The Freiburg personality inventory (FPI): manual. Hogrefe, GöttingenGoogle Scholar
  19. Flaa A, Ekeberg O, Kjeldsen SE, Rostrup M (2007) Personality may influence reactivity to stress. Biopsychosoc Med 1:5. doi:10.1186/1751-0759-1181-1185 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Friedman HS (2000) Long-term relations of personality and health: dynamisms, mechanisms, tropisms. J Pers 68:1089–1107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gilhooly M, Hanlon P, Cullen B, Macdonald S, Whyte B (2007) Successful ageing in an area of deprivation: a quantitative exploration of the role of personality and beliefs in good health in old age. Public Health 121:814–821CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Glazer KM, Emery CF, Frid DJ, Banyasz RE (2002) Psychological predictors of adherence and outcomes among patients in cardiac rehabilitation. J Cardpulm Rehabil 22:40–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goodwin RD, Friedman HS (2006) Health status and the five-factor personality traits in a nationally representative sample. J Health Psychol 11:643–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Goodwin RD, Stein MB (2003) Peptic ulcer disease and neuroticism in the United States adult population. Psychother Psychosom 72:10–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hellström Y, Persson G, Hallberg IR (2004) Quality of life and symptoms among older people living at home. J Adv Nurs 48:584–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hu L, Bentler PM (1998) Fit indices in covariance structure modeling: sensitivity to underparameterized model misspecification. Psychol Methods 3:424–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jerram KL, Coleman PG (1999) The big five personality traits and reporting of health problems and health behaviour in old age. Br J Health Psychol 4:181–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jonas BS, Lando JF (2000) Negative affect as a prospective risk factor for hypertension. Psychosom Med 62:188–196Google Scholar
  29. Keyes CL, Shmotkin D, Ryff CD (2002) Optimizing well-being: the empirical encounter of two traditions. J Pers Soc Psychol 82:1007–1022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kline RB (1998) Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Mardia KV (1970) Measures of multivariate skewness and kurtosis with applications. Br J Math Stat Psychol 28:205–214Google Scholar
  32. Markides KS, Lee DJ, Ray LA (1993) Physicians’ ratings of health in middle age and old age. J Gerontol 48:24–27Google Scholar
  33. McCrae RR (2002) The maturation of personality psychology: adult personality development and psychological well-being. J Res Pers 36:307–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Merecz D, Makowska Z, Makowiec-Dabrowska T (1999) The assessment of big five personality factors and temperament domains as modifiers of cardiovascular response to occupational stress. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 12:273–284Google Scholar
  35. Myers RH (1990) Classical and modern regression with application. Duxbury, BostonGoogle Scholar
  36. Mroczek DK, Spiro A (2003) Modeling intraindividual change in personality traits: findings from the Normative Aging Study. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 58:153–165Google Scholar
  37. Ozer DJ, Benet-Martinez V (2006) Personality and the prediction of consequential outcomes. Annu Rev Psychol 57:401–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Perrig-Chiello P (1997) [Resources for well-being in old age]. Juventa, WeinheimGoogle Scholar
  39. Perrig-Chiello P, Perrig WJ, Stahelin HB, Krebs-Roubicek E, Ehrsam R (1996) Wellbeing, health and autonomy in old age: the Basal IDA Study (Interdisciplinary Aging Study). Z Gerontol Geriatr 29:95–109Google Scholar
  40. Perrig-Chiello P, Perrig WJ, Stähelin HB (1999) Health control beliefs in old age—relationship with subjective and objective health and health behavior. J Psychol Health Med 4:84–94Google Scholar
  41. Petrovic M, Vandierendonck A, Mariman A, van Maele G, Afschrift M, Pevernagie D (2002) Personality traits and socio-epidemiological status of elderly benzodiazepine users. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 17:733–738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pinquart M (2001) Correlates of subjective health in older adults: a meta-analysis. Psychol Aging 16:414–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ranzijn R, Luszcz M (1999) Acceptance: a key to well-being in older adults? Aust Psychol 34:94–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rothenbacher D, Brenner H (2006) Cardiovascular diseases among older adults: incidence, prognosis and new avenues for prevention. In: Wahl HW, Brenner H, Mollenkopf H, Rothenbacher D, Rott C (eds) The many faces of health, competence and well-being in old age. Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  45. Rowe JW, Kahn RL (1998) Successful aging. Pantheon Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Ryan RM, Deci EL (2001) On happiness and human potentials: a review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annu Rev Psychol 52:141–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ryff CD, Love GD, Urry HL, Muller D, Rosenkranz MA, Friedman EM, Davidson RJ, Singer B (2006) Psychological well-being and ill-being: do they have distinct or mirrored biological correlates? Psychother Psychosom 75:85–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Samuelsson SM, Alfredson BB, Hagberg B, Samuelsson G, Nordbeck B, Brun A, Gustafson L, Risberg J (1997) The Swedish Centenarian Study: a multidisciplinary study of five consecutive cohorts at the age of 100. Int J Aging Hum Dev 45:223–253Google Scholar
  49. Schmutte PS, Ryff CD (1997) Personality and well-being: reexamining methods and meanings. J Pers Soc Psychol 73:549–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schwarzer R (1996) Thought control of action: interfering self-doubts. In: Sarason I, Pierce G, Sarason B (eds) Cognitive interference. Erlbaum, HillsdaleGoogle Scholar
  51. Seeber A, Demes P, Golka K, Kiesswetter E, Schaper M, van Thriel C, Zupanic M (2000) Subjective symptoms due to solvent mixtures, dioxin, and toluene: impact of expose versus personality factors. Neurotoxicology 21:677–684Google Scholar
  52. Steptoe A, Wardle J (2005) Positive affect and biological function in everyday life. Neurobiol Aging 26(Suppl 1):108–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vaillant GE, Mukamal K (2001) Successful aging. Am J Psychiatry 158:839–847Google Scholar
  54. Voyer P, Cohen D, Lauzon S, Collin J (2004) Factors associated with psychotropic drug use among community-dwelling older persons: a review of empirical studies. BMC Nurs 3(1):3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Watson D, Pennebaker JW (1989) Health complaints, stress, and distress: exploring the central role of negative affectivity. Psychol Rev 96:234–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Watson D, Walker IM (1996) The long-term stability and predictive validity of trait measures of affect. J Pers Soc Psychol 70:567–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Weiss A, Costa PRJ (2005) Domain and facet personality predictors of all-cause mortality among Medicare patients aged 65 to 100. Psychosom Med 67:724–733CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Westermeyer JF (1998) Predictors and characteristics of mental health among men at mid-life: a 32-year longitudinal study. Am J Orthopsychiatry 68:265–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wilson KCM, Mottram P (2002) Benzodiazepam use and abuse in the community: Liverpool studies. In: Copeland JRM, Abou-Saleh MT, Blazer DG (eds) Principles and practice of geriatric psychiatry. Wiley, Chichester, pp 619–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wilson RS, Krueger KR, Liping G, Bienias JL, Mendes de Leon CF, Evans DA (2005) Neuroticism, extraversion, and mortality in a defined population of older persons. Psychosom Med 67:841–845CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Woodruff-Borden J, Brothers AJ, Lister SC (2001) Self-focused attention: commonalities across psychopathologies and predictors. Behav Cogn Psychother 29:169–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zonderman AB, Herbst JH, Schmidt C, Costa PT, McCrae RR (1993) Depressive symptoms as a nonspecific graded risk for psychiatric diagnosis. J Abnorm Psychol 102:544–552CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello
    • 1
  • Susanne M. Jaeggi
    • 2
  • Martin Buschkuehl
    • 2
  • Hannes B. Stähelin
    • 3
  • Walter J. Perrig
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of BernBern 9Switzerland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Geriatric ClinicUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  4. 4.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations