Compensatory conscientiousness and health in older couples.

TitleCompensatory conscientiousness and health in older couples.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsRoberts, BW, Smith, J, Jackson, JJ, Edmonds, G
JournalPsychol Sci
Date Published2009 May
ISSN Number1467-9280
Call Numbernewpubs20090908_Roberts_etal.pdf
KeywordsActivities of Daily Living, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Conscience, Female, Health Status, Humans, Longevity, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Neurotic Disorders, Personality Inventory, Social Conformity, Spouses

The present study tested the effect of conscientiousness and neuroticism on health and physical limitations in a representative sample of older couples (N= 2,203) drawn from the Health and Retirement Study. As in past research, conscientiousness predicted better health and physical functioning, whereas neuroticism predicted worse health and physical functioning. Unique to this study was the finding that conscientiousness demonstrated a compensatory effect, such that husbands' conscientiousness predicted wives' health outcomes above and beyond wives' own personality. The same pattern held true for wives' conscientiousness as a predictor of husbands' health outcomes. Furthermore, conscientiousness and neuroticism acted synergistically, such that people who scored high for both traits were healthier than others. Finally, we found that the combination of high conscientiousness and high neuroticism was also compensatory, such that the wives of men with this combination of personality traits reported better health than other women.

User Guide Notes

Endnote Keywords

aging/Couples/Personal relationships

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalPsychol Sci
Citation Key7309
PubMed ID19476589
PubMed Central IDPMC2698025
Grant ListU01 AG009740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
AG21178 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R56 AG021178 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01 AG021178 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01 AG021178-05 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States