European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 27–37 | Cite as

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


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.


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



This study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Study-Nr. 4032-035642). The preparation of the manuscript was supported by Swiss National Science Foundation fellowships to SMJ (No. PA001-117473) and MB (No. PBBE1-117527).


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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

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