Rural-urban differences in personality traits and well-being in adulthood.

TitleRural-urban differences in personality traits and well-being in adulthood.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsAtherton, OE, Willroth, EC, Graham, EK, Luo, J, Mroczek, DK, Lewis-Thames, MW
JournalJournal of Personality
ISSN Number1467-6494
KeywordsBig Five, Life Satisfaction, MIDUS, psychological well-being, rurality

OBJECTIVE: One large focus of personality psychology is to understand the biopsychosocial factors responsible for adult personality development and well-being change. However, little is known about how macro-level contextual factors, such as rurality-urbanicity, are related to personality development and well-being change.

METHOD: The present study uses data from two large longitudinal studies of U.S. Americans (MIDUS, HRS) to examine whether there are rural-urban differences in levels and changes in the Big Five personality traits and well-being (i.e., psychological well-being, and life satisfaction) in adulthood.

RESULTS: Multilevel models showed that Americans who lived in more rural areas tended to have lower levels of openness, conscientiousness, and psychological well-being, and higher levels of neuroticism. With the exception of psychological well-being (which replicated across MIDUS and HRS), rural-urban differences in personality traits were only evident in the HRS sample. The effect of neuroticism was fully robust to the inclusion of socio-demographic and social network covariates, but other effects were partially robust (i.e., conscientiousness and openness) or were not robust at all (i.e., psychological well-being). In both samples, there were no rural-urban differences in Big Five or well-being change.

CONCLUSIONS: We discuss the implications of these findings for personality and rural health research.

Citation Key12959
PubMed ID36725776
PubMed Central IDPMC10390645
Grant ListK01-CA262342 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States