Being good, doing good: The role of honesty and integrity for health

TitleBeing good, doing good: The role of honesty and integrity for health
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsWeziak-Bialowolska, D, Bialowolski, P, Niemiec, RM
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
ISSN Number0277-9536
KeywordsCharacter strength, depression, Honesty, integrity, Lung disease, Physical Health

Psychological traits, such as character strengths, have been already established in experimental studies as factors playing a favorable role for well-being and potentially reducing the risk of depression. Positive associations have been also reported between character strengths and physical fitness, self-reported physical and mental health. Yet, evidence with large scale, epidemiological data on the role of character strength of honesty and integrity (CSHI) in shaping subsequent health outcomes and daily functioning remains unexplored. We examined whether the character strength of honesty and integrity was prospectively associated with six physical health outcomes, two depression outcomes, and two daily functioning outcomes. We used data from the Health and Retirement Study obtained from a sample of 9813 older adults. We found that after a 4-year follow-up period, compared with individuals who scored the lowest in CSHI, participants who scored in the third tertile had a 18% lower risk of lung disease (RR = 0.824; 95% CI = 0.732; 0.927), and a 11% lower risk of depression (RR = 0.891; 95% CI = 0.806; 0.986). They also reported lower limitations in mobility (β = −0.048; 95% CI (−0.089; −0.008)] and less difficulty in instrumental activities of daily living [β = −0.088; 95% CI (−0.128; −0.047)]. These associations were independent of demographics, prior socioeconomic status, psychological factors, health conditions, and health behaviors. Policy makers and practitioners may consider the character strength of honesty and integrity as a factor for promoting healthy longevity, limiting risks of becoming physically inactive and reducing risk of physical and mental disease.

Citation KeyWEZIAKBIALOWOLSKA2021114494