Psychological Studies

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 59–69 | Cite as

How Five-Factor Personality Traits Affect Psychological Distress and Depression? Results from a Large Population-Based Study

  • Fatemeh Nouri
  • Awat FeiziEmail author
  • Hamid Afshar
  • Ammar Hassanzadeh Keshteli
  • Peyman Adibi
Research in Progress


The objective of this study was to explore the association of five factors personality traits, as predictor variables, with the depression and psychological distress as joint-dependent variables in an Iranian general population. NEO-big five, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) were used for collecting data regarding personality traits and psychological problems from 3177 participants in a cross-sectional population-based study. Our findings showed that higher neuroticism scores increase the risk of psychological distress and depression score (p < 0.05). Participants with higher extraversion scores experienced lower levels of depression and lower risk of psychological distress (p < 0.05). Furthermore, higher scores of conscientiousness significantly increase, while agreeableness decreases the scores of psychological distress (p < 0.05). It is suggested to perform longitudinal studies focusing on both genetic and environmental factors on the relationships between personality and psychological disorders.


Depression Psychological distress Personality traits Shared random effect model 



The authors are thankful to participants of SEPAHAN Project. The current study article was a research project at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, under Project No. 194130.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Adibi, P., Keshteli, A. H., Esmaillzadeh, A., Afshar, H., Roohafza, H., Bagherian-Sararoudi, R., et al. (2012). The study on the epidemiology of psychological, alimentary health and nutrition (SEPAHAN): Overview of methodology. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 17(Spec 2), S291–S297.Google Scholar
  2. Al-Asadi, A. M., Klein, B., & Meyer, D. (2014). Comorbidity structure of psychological disorders in the online e-PASS data as predictors of psychosocial adjustment measures: psychological distress, adequate social support, self-confidence, quality of life, and suicidal ideation. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(10), e248.Google Scholar
  3. Albert, U., Rosso, G., Maina, G., & Bogetto, F. (2008). Impact of anxiety disorder comorbidity on quality of life in euthymic bipolar disorder patients: Differences between bipolar I and II subtypes. Journal of Affective Disorders, 105(1–3), 297–303. Scholar
  4. Allen, T. A., Carey, B. E., McBride, C., Bagby, R. M., DeYoung, C. G., & Quilty, L. C. (2017). Big Five aspects of personality interact to predict depression. Journal of Personality, 86(4), 714–725.Google Scholar
  5. Atari, Y. A., Aman Elahifard, A., & Mehrabizadeh, H. M. (2006). An investigation of relationships between personality characteristics and family-personal factors and marital satisfaction in administrative office personnel in Ahvaz. Journal of Education and Psychology, 13(3), 81–108.Google Scholar
  6. Bienvenu, O. J., Brown, C., Samuels, J. F., Liang, K.-Y., Costa, P. T., Eaton, W. W., et al. (2001). Normal personality traits and comorbidity among phobic, panic and major depressive disorders. Psychiatry Research, 102(1), 73–85. Scholar
  7. Bienvenu, O. J., Nestadt, G., Samuels, J. F., Costa, P. T., Howard, W. T., & Eaton, W. W. (2001). Phobic, panic, and major depressive disorders and the five-factor model of personality. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 189(3), 154–161. Scholar
  8. Bienvenu, O. J., Samuels, J. F., Costa, P. T., Reti, I. M., Eaton, W. W., & Nestadt, G. (2004). Anxiety and depressive disorders and the five-factor model of personality: A higher-and lower-order personality trait investigation in a community sample. Depression and Anxiety, 20(2), 92–97. Scholar
  9. Cuijpers, P., van Straten, A., & Donker, M. (2005). Personality traits of patients with mood and anxiety disorders. Psychiatry Research, 133(2), 229–237. Scholar
  10. Esch, T., Stefano, G. B., Fricchione, G. L., & Benson, H. (2002). Stress in cardiovascular diseases. Medical Science Monitor, 8(5), 93–101.Google Scholar
  11. Ghaedi, G., & Yaaghoobi, H. (2008). A study on the relationship between different dimensions of perceived social support and different aspects of wellbeing. Armaghane Danesh, 13(2), 69–81.Google Scholar
  12. Grav, S., Stordal, E., Romild, U. K., & Hellzen, O. (2012). The relationship among neuroticism, extraversion, and depression in the HUNT Study: In relation to age and gender. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33(11), 777–785. Scholar
  13. Hasel, K. M., Besharat, M. A., Abdolhoseini, A., Nasab, S. A., & Niknam, S. (2013). Relationships of personality factors to perceived stress, depression, and oral lichen planus severity. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 20(2), 286–292. Scholar
  14. Jerram, K. L., & Coleman, P. G. (1999). The big five personality traits and reporting of health problems and health behaviour in old age. British Journal of Health Psychology, 4(2), 181–192. Scholar
  15. Kendler, K. S., Gatz, M., Gardner, C. O., & Pedersen, N. L. (2006). Personality and major depression: A Swedish longitudinal, population-based twin study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63(10), 1113–1120.Google Scholar
  16. Kessler, R. C., Chiu, W. T., Demler, O., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 617–627. Scholar
  17. Kotov, R., Watson, D., Robles, J. P., & Schmidt, N. B. (2007). Personality traits and anxiety symptoms: The multilevel trait predictor model. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45(7), 1485–1503. Scholar
  18. Krueger, R. F. (1999). The structure of common mental disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 56(10), 921–926.Google Scholar
  19. Lecrubier, Y. (2001). The burden of depression and anxiety in general medicine. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(Suppl8), 4–9.Google Scholar
  20. Manning, K. J., Chan, G., & Steffens, D. C. (2017). Neuroticism traits selectively impact long term illness course and cognitive decline in late-life depression. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 25(3), 220–229.Google Scholar
  21. Markou, A., & Cryan, J. F. (2012). Stress, anxiety and depression: Toward new treatment strategies. Neuropharmacology, 62(1), 1–2. Scholar
  22. McCann, S. J. (2010). Suicide, big five personality factors, and depression at the American state level. Archives of Suicide Research, 14(4), 368–374. Scholar
  23. Montazeri, A., Harirchi, A. M., Shariati, M., Garmaroudi, G., Ebadi, M., & Fateh, A. (2003). The 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12): Translation and validation study of the Iranian version. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 1(1), 1. Scholar
  24. Montazeri, A., Vahdaninia, M., Ebrahimi, M., & Jarvandi, S. (2003). The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS): Translation and validation study of the Iranian version. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 1(1), 1. Scholar
  25. Murphy, M. L., Miller, G. E., & Wrosch, C. (2013). Conscientiousness and stress exposure and reactivity: A prospective study of adolescent females. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 36(2), 153–164. Scholar
  26. Newbury-Birch, D., & Kamali, F. (2001). Psychological stress, anxiety, depression, job satisfaction, and personality characteristics in preregistration house officers. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 77(904), 109–111. Scholar
  27. Noorbala, A. A., Bagheri Yazdi, S. A., Yasamy, M. T. & Mohammad, K. (2004). Mental health survey of the adult population in Iran. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 184(1), 70–73. Scholar
  28. Rashidi, B., Hosseini, S., Beigi, P., Ghazizadeh, M., & Farahani, M. (2011). Infertility stress: The role of coping strategies, personality trait, and social support. Journal of Family and Reproductive Health, 5(4), 101–108.Google Scholar
  29. Roohafza, H., Shahnam, M., Zolfaghari, B., Tavassoli, A., Sadeghi, M., Toloei, H., et al. (2011). Stress level and smoking status in central Iran: Isfahan healthy heart program. ARYA Atherosclerosis, 6(4), 144–148.Google Scholar
  30. Røvik, J. O., Tyssen, R., Gude, T., Moum, T., Ekeberg, Ø., & Vaglum, P. (2007). Exploring the interplay between personality dimensions: A comparison of the typological and the dimensional approach in stress research. Personality and Individual Differences, 42(7), 1255–1266. Scholar
  31. Salehi-Abargouei, A., Esmaillzadeh, A., Azadbakht, L., Keshteli, A. H., Feizi, A., Feinle-Bisset, C., et al. (2016). Nutrient patterns and their relation to general and abdominal obesity in Iranian adults: Findings from the SEPAHAN study. European Journal of Nutrition, 55(2), 505–518. Scholar
  32. Schoevers, R. A., Deeg, D., Van Tilburg, W., & Beekman, A. (2005). Depression and generalized anxiety disorder: Co-occurrence and longitudinal patterns in elderly patients. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 13(1), 31–39. Scholar
  33. Scott, J., & Dickey, B. (2003). Global burden of depression: The intersection of culture and medicine. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 183(2), 92–94. Scholar
  34. Stordal, E., Bjartveit Krüger, M., Dahl, N. H., Krüger, Ø., Mykletun, A., & Dahl, A. A. (2001). Depression in relation to age and gender in the general population: The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT). Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 104(3), 210–216. Scholar
  35. Takahashi, M., Shirayama, Y., Muneoka, K., Suzuki, M., Sato, K., & Hashimoto, K. (2013). Low openness on the revised NEO personality inventory as a risk factor for treatment-resistant depression. Publish with PLoS One, 8(9), e71964.Google Scholar
  36. Terracciano, A., & Costa, P. T. (2004). Smoking and the five-factor model of personality. Addiction, 99(4), 472–481. Scholar
  37. Tyssen, R., Dolatowski, F. C., Røvik, J. O., Thorkildsen, R. F., Ekeberg, Ø., Hem, E., et al. (2007). Personality traits and types predict medical school stress: A six-year longitudinal and nationwide study. Medical Education, 41(8), 781–787. Scholar
  38. van der Wal, S. J., Bienvenu, O. J., Romanoski, A. J., Eaton, W. W., Nestadt, G., & Samuels, J. (2018). Longitudinal relationships between personality disorder dimensions and depression in a community sample. Neurology, Psychiatry and Brain Research, 30, 56–61.Google Scholar
  39. Wang, Y., Yao, L., Liu, L., Yang, X., Wu, H., Wang, J., et al. (2014). The mediating role of self-efficacy in the relationship between Big five personality and depressive symptoms among Chinese unemployed population: A cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1), 1. Scholar
  40. Wasylkiw, L., & Fekken, G. C. (2002). Personality and self-reported health: Matching predictors and criteria. Personality and Individual Differences, 33(4), 607–620. Scholar
  41. Watson, D., Gamez, W., & Simms, L. J. (2005). Basic dimensions of temperament and their relation to anxiety and depression: A symptom-based perspective. Journal of Research in Personality, 39(1), 46–66. Scholar
  42. Wolfestein, M., & Trull, T. J. (1997). Depression and openness to experience. Journal of Personality Assessment, 69(3), 614–632.Google Scholar
  43. Zautra, A. J., Affleck, G. G., Tennen, H., Reich, J. W., & Davis, M. C. (2005). Dynamic approaches to emotions and stress in everyday life: Bolger and Zuckerman reloaded with positive as well as negative affects. Journal of Personality, 73(6), 1511–1538. Scholar

Copyright information

© National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hypertension Research Center, Cardiovascular Research InstituteIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of HealthIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  3. 3.Psychosomatic Research CenterIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, School of MedicineIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  5. 5.Integrative Functional Gastrointestinal DisordersIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  6. 6.Department of MedicineUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  7. 7.Department of Internal Medicine, School of MedicineIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran

Personalised recommendations