Prior research found reduced mortality in coronary heart patients with higher scores on the Openness to Experience (O) domain and its facets. Decreased C-reactive protein level (CRP) levels may be one mechanism by which higher O leads to decreased mortality. Thus, the current study aimed to test the association between the O domain and its facets, as assessed by the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised, and CRP in a sample of 165 healthy black and white, male and female community volunteers.
Blood samples were taken before and after a 40-minute mental stress protocol. BMI and education were significant predictors of CRP and, in addition to age, were included as covariates in all analyses. Race and sex were tested as possible moderating variables.
In a mixed effects model the main effect of Time (pre/post-stress), O and their interaction were not significant predictors of CRP. However, results showed a significant race x O effect on CRP (p =.03). In blacks, higher O domain (r = -.41, p<.01), Aesthetics facet (r = -.30, p=.01), Feelings facet (r = -.41, p<.01), and Ideas facet (r = -.38, p<.01) scores were associated with lower mean CRP levels. In contrast, among white participants, neither the O domain nor its related facets were associated with CRP.
The O domain and its facets may be associated with markers of the inflammatory process among blacks but not whites.