This report provides some initial findings from an investigation of the relations between childhood Big Five personality traits assessed by elementary-school teachers and similar traits assessed 40 years later by self-reports at midlife. Our analyses are based on data from a relatively large and culturally diverse sample (N = 799) that was first assessed between 1959 and 1967 when the participants were children in Hawaii. Short-term (1-3 years) test retest reliabilities were lower (.22 -.53) within childhood when personality is developing than within adulthood (.70 -.79) when personality stability may be at its peak. Stability coefficients across the 40-year interval between the childhood assessment and two measures of adulthood personality were higher for Extraversion (e.g., .29) and Conscientiousness (e.g., .25) than for Openness (e.g., .16), Agreeableness (e.g., .08) and Neuroticism (e.g., .00). Construct continuity between childhood and adulthood was evaluated by canonical analysis and by structural-equation modeling and indicated continuity at both a broad, two-dimensional level and at the level of the Big Five. The findings are discussed in relation to Caspi, Roberts, and Shiner’s (2005) principles of rank-order personality stability.
personality stability; Big Five; construct continuity; longitudinal study
The role of children's personality traits in the consumption of potentially obesogenic foods was investigated in a sample of Norwegian children aged 6–12 years (N = 327, 170 boys, 157 girls). Mothers rated their child's personality on the traits of the Five Factor Model (i.e., Extraversion, Benevolence, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Imagination). Mothers also completed a food frequency questionnaire assessing their child's consumption of sweet drinks, sweet foods, and fruit and vegetables, and reported their child's height and weight. Controlling for age and mothers' education, boys and girls who were less benevolent consumed more sweet drinks, and girls who were less conscientious and more neurotic consumed more sweet drinks. Boys and girls who were more benevolent and imaginative consumed more fruits and vegetables, and boys who were more extraverted, more conscientious, and less neurotic consumed more fruits and vegetables. Controlling for maternal education, boys and girls who were less extraverted, and girls who were less benevolent, less conscientious, and more neurotic were more likely to be overweight or obese. These findings suggest that children's personality traits play an important yet understudied role in their diet. Further investigation of mechanisms that relate child traits to obesogenic eating and overweight would be valuable.
Eating; diet; food consumption; weight; obesity; personality; temperament; behavior problems; gender; children
Personality traits predict substance use in adolescence, but less is known about prospective substance use in middle age and beyond. Moreover, there is growing interest in how personality change and the multiplicative effects among personality traits relate to substance use. Participants included approximately 4,000 adults aged 25–74 who participated in two waves of the Midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS) study. Higher levels of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, and lower levels of conscientiousness and agreeableness predicted longitudinal substance use. Increases in neuroticism and openness predicted increased substance use while increases in conscientiousness and agreeableness predicted decreased substance use. Higher levels of conscientiousness moderated two of the other trait main effects. Personality, trait change, and interactions among traits reliably forecasted 10-year substance-use behaviors.
personality; interactions; change; conscientiousness; substance use; smoking; drinking; drug
The development and psychometric properties of an Implicit Association Test (IAT) measuring implicit attitude toward smoking among fifth grade children were described. The IAT with “sweets” as the contrast category resulted in higher correlations with explicit attitudes than did the IAT with “healthy foods” as the contrast category. Children with family members who smoked (versus non-smoking) and children who were high in sensation seeking (versus low) had a significantly more favorable implicit attitude toward smoking. Further, implicit attitudes became less favorable after engaging in tobacco prevention activities targeting risk perceptions of addiction. Results support the reliability and validity of this version of the IAT and illustrate its usefulness in assessing young children's implicit attitude toward smoking.
In a cohort-sequential longitudinal study (N = 1,075), we related change in children's hostility and sociability assessed from 1st-8th grade to their use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana assessed from 9th-12th grade. Children who were more hostile at 1st grade, and had higher rates of growth of hostility, used more of all three substances at 9th grade, and those with higher initial levels of hostility increased their use of cigarettes and marijuana from 9th to 12th grade. Children who were more sociable at 1st grade used more alcohol at 9th grade. These findings demonstrate the significance of individual differences in the development of personality traits for the prediction of later substance use and have implications for prevention.
trait change; adolescent substance use; hostility; sociability
It is time to better understand why personality traits predict consequential outcomes, which calls for a closer look at personality processes. Personality processes are mechanisms that unfold over time to produce the effects of personality traits. They include reactive and instrumental processes that moderate or mediate the association between traits and outcomes. These mechanisms are illustrated here by a selection of studies of traits representing the three broad domains of personality and temperament: negative emotionality, positive emotionality, and constraint. Personality processes are studied over the short-term, as in event-sampling studies, and over the long-term, as in lifespan research. Implications of findings from the study of processes are considered for resolving issues in models of personality structure, improving and extending methods of personality assessment, and identifying targets for personality interventions.
Negative emotionality; positive emotionality; constraint; mediation; moderation; social cognition
Children’s personality traits have enduring effects that shape adult well-being. In particular, childhood conscientiousness influences core aspects of adult well-being: health, friendships, and mastery. Research is now examining the mechanisms by which early personality traits initiate and sustain particular life paths. These include mediating and moderating mechanisms that may operate during critical developmental periods or may build cumulatively over time. Future research would benefit from testing theoretically derived mechanisms for different traits, and examining variables as they change over time, using both short- and long-term longitudinal designs over different life stages.
childhood personality; mechanisms; health behaviors; self-regulation; stress
This study examined psychosocial mechanisms by which children’s early sensation seeking may influence their later marijuana use. In a longitudinal study, 4th and 5th grade elementary school children (N = 420) were followed until they were in 11th and 12th grades in high school with annual or biennial assessments. Sensation seeking (assessed over the first 4 assessments) predicted affiliating with deviant peers and level of favorable social images of kids who use marijuana (both assessed over the subsequent 3 assessments). Affiliation with deviant peers and the growth in social images predicted marijuana use in 11th and 12th grades. Affiliation with deviant peers mediated the effect of early sensation seeking on subsequent marijuana use. The theoretical and applied significance of this influence of early sensation seeking is discussed.
marijuana; sensation seeking; adolescence; childhood; social images; deviant peer affiliation
The authors tested a mediation model in which childhood hostility and sociability were expected to influence the development of intentions to use alcohol in the future through the mediating mechanisms of developing attitudes and norms. Children in 1st through 5th grades (N = 1,049) from a Western Oregon community participated in a longitudinal study involving four annual assessments. Hostility and sociability were assessed by teachers= ratings at the first assessment, and attitudes, subjective norms and intentions were assessed by self-report at all four assessments. For both genders, latent growth modeling demonstrated that sociability predicted an increase in intentions to use alcohol over time, whereas hostility predicted initial levels of these intentions. These personality effects were mediated by the development of attitudes and subjective norms, supporting a model wherein childhood personality traits exert their influence on the development of intentions to use alcohol through the development of these more proximal cognitions.
Personality; children; alcohol intentions; attitudes; subjective norms
Children’s intentions to smoke are reliable predictors of subsequent smoking and precede smoking initiation, so identifying predictors of intentions is important for preventing or delaying smoking initiation. Children’s hostility and sociability, mediated by the development of prototypes (i.e., social images of children who smoke cigarettes) and subjective norms regarding smoking among peers, were expected to predict the development of their intentions to smoke cigarettes in the future. Children in 2nd through 5th grades (N = 809) from a Western Oregon community participated in a longitudinal study. Hostility and sociability were assessed by teachers = ratings, and prototypes, subjective norms, and intentions were assessed by self-report at each of the first four annual assessments. Children’s intentions to smoke predicted whether they had tried cigarettes by the fifth assessment. For both genders, latent growth modeling demonstrated that hostility, but not sociability, predicted the development of smoking intentions. More hostile children were more likely to have higher initial levels of intentions to smoke and, for boys, this effect was mediated by their higher initial levels of subjective norms about smoking. Sociability was not related to the development of smoking cognitions for boys or girls. These results were discussed in terms of opportunities to intervene on early influences on smoking intentions.
Personality traits and risk perceptions were examined as predictors of changes in smoking behavior. Participants (N = 697) were part of a randomized controlled trial of interventions to reduce exposure to the combined hazard of radon and cigarette smoke. Participants with higher perceived risk at baseline for the combination of smoking and radon were more likely to have a more restrictive household smoking ban in place at 12 months follow-up (p <. 05). Risk perceptions also predicted reductions in the total number of cigarettes smoked in the home for participants in the video intervention who had high or moderate levels of Extraversion (p <.001). Greater perceived risk predicted quitting for highly or moderately conscientious women (p <.05). The moderating effects of personality traits should be considered when evaluating risk-reduction interventions.
smoking; Big Five; perceived risk; health behavior; radon
We investigated the continuity of personality constructs in the Oregon Youth Substance Use Project, a cohort-sequential study encompassing development from early childhood to adolescence with five annual or biennial assessments. Sociability and Hostility, assessed by teachers’ ratings of children’s behaviors at each assessment, were related to the traits comprising the Five-Factor model assessed by teachers’ ratings at the fifth assessment. Confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated that Sociability and Hostility were reliably measured at each assessment, and these constructs were relatively stable over time (mean rank-order stability coefficients over intervals of 1–5 years were .50 and .43, respectively). Sociability was most strongly associated (positively) with Extraversion, and Hostility was most strongly associated (negatively) with Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability. No differences were found for younger versus older children. Implications for measuring childhood personality traits using teachers’ reports of early childhood behavior are discussed.
Sociability; Hostility; Five-Factor model; children’s personality; stability; continuity
To test a lifespan health-behavior model in which educational attainment and health behaviors (eating habits, smoking, and physical activity) were hypothesized as mechanisms to account for relations between teacher ratings of childhood personality traits and self-reported health status at midlife.
The model was tested on 1,054 members of the Hawaii Personality and Health cohort, which is a population-based cohort participating in a longitudinal study of personality and health spanning 40 years from childhood to midlife.
Self-reported health status as a latent construct indicated by general health, functional status, and body mass index.
Childhood Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Intellect/Imagination influenced adult health status indirectly through educational attainment, healthy eating habits, and smoking. Several direct effects of childhood traits on health behaviors and health status were also observed.
The model extends past associations found between personality traits and health behaviors or health status by identifying a life-course pathway based on the health-behavior model through which early childhood traits influence adult health status. The additional direct effects of personality traits indicate that health-behavior mechanisms may not provide a complete account of relations between personality and health.
childhood Big Five; lifespan health-behavior model; longitudinal study; health behaviors; educational attainment
A life-span health-behavior model was investigated in this longitudinal study of personality influences on health. Teachers assessed 963 elementary school children on traits that formed scales assessing the dimensions of the five-factor (Big Five) model of personality. Smoking, alcohol use, body mass index (BMI), and self-rated health were assessed 40 years later in midlife. Childhood personality traits were significantly associated with all four outcomes, and the effects were consistently larger for women than men. For men and women, childhood Conscientiousness was associated with less adult smoking and better adult self-rated health and, for women only, with lower adult BMI. Mediation analyses suggested that the effects of Conscientiousness on self-rated health were partially mediated by smoking and BMI. These findings add to the growing evidence that childhood personality traits predict adult health outcomes, and are discussed in terms of future testing of the life-span health-behavior model.
Big Five; smoking; alcohol; BMI; self-rated health; longitudinal study;
This study investigated whether infants’ temperament at 18 months is associated with the feeding of foods and drinks that may increase the risk for later obesity.
This was a cross-sectional study of mothers and infants (N = 40,266) participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Data were collected by questionnaire. Predictor variables were: infants’ temperament at 18 months (internalizing, externalizing, and surgency/extraversion), and mothers’ negative affectivity. Outcomes variables were feeding of sweet foods, sweet drinks, and night-time caloric drinks at 18 months (all dichotomized). Confounders were child’s gender, weight-for-height at 18 months, breastfeeding, and mother’s level of education.
After controlling for confounders, infant temperament dimensions at 18 months were significantly associated with mothers’ feeding of potentially obesogenic foods and drinks independent of mothers’ negative affectivity. Infants who were more internalizing were more likely to be given sweet foods (OR 1.47, CI 1.32–1.65), sweet drinks (OR 1.76, CI 1.56–1.98), and drinks at night (OR 2.91, CI 2.54–3.33); infants who were more externalizing were more likely to be given sweet food (OR 1.53, CI 1.40–1.67) and sweet drinks (OR 1.22, CI 1.11–1.34); and infants who were more surgent were more likely to be given drinks at night (OR1.66, CI 1.42–1.92).
The association between infant temperament and maternal feeding patterns suggests early mechanisms for later obesity that should be investigated in future studies.
infant temperament; sweet foods; sweet drinks; night-time caloric drinks
To test aspects of a theory of the role of personality and gender on the development of vocational interests, and their subsequent effects on adult occupational choices, this study examined associations between childhood personality traits, gender, and occupational environments over 40 years later. Participants (N = 587) were assessed on the Big Five by their teachers when aged 6–12 years. In middle-age (late 40’s) they reported their occupation. Holland’s RIASEC vocational types (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional) were used to characterize the job environments of reported occupations. Childhood Openness/Intellect and Conscientiousness, but no other Big Five traits, were associated with occupational environments. For the most strongly sex-typed work environments, associations with Openness/Intellect were moderated by gender. Discussion of these findings suggested that the roots of the strongest gender stereotyping effects in occupations may be found not only in the social factors associated with gender, but also in the individual differences of children related to Openness/Intellect.
Occupations; Gender; Big Five; Vocational Interests; Personality; Openness/Intellect
The continuity of personality’s association with directly observed behavior is demonstrated across two contexts spanning four decades. During the 1960s, elementary school teachers rated personalities of members of the ethnically diverse Hawaii Personality and Health Cohort (Hampson & Goldberg, 2006). The same individuals were interviewed in a medical clinic over 40 years later. Trained coders viewed video recordings of a subset of these interviews (N = 144, 68 F, 76 M) and assessed the behavior they observed using the Riverside Behavioral Q-sort Version 3.0 (Funder, Furr & Colvin, 2000; Furr, Wagerman & Funder, 2010). Children rated by their teachers as “verbally fluent” (defined as unrestrained talkativeness) showed dominant and socially adept behavior as middle-aged adults. Early “adaptability” was associated with cheerful and intellectually curious behavior, early “impulsivity” was associated with later talkativeness and loud speech, and early rated tendencies to “self-minimize” were related to adult expressions of insecurity and humility.
Personality; Directly Observed Behavior; Situations; Continuity
This study examines how active coping and withdrawal, psychological (internalizing and externalizing) symptoms, and glycemic control (A1C values) influence each other across time in adolescents with type 1 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
One hundred and nine adolescents participated in a four-wave longitudinal study spanning four years (mean age at Time 1 was 13.77). Patients were visited at home and completed questionnaires measuring coping and psychological symptoms. The treating physicians were contacted to obtain A1C values. Cross-lagged path analysis from a structural equation modeling approach was used for data analysis.
Clinically meaningful pathways between coping and glycemic control were found across time. Active coping prospectively predicted lower A1C levels, which, in turn, predicted active coping. Higher A1C levels and higher psychological symptoms consistently predicted avoidance coping across time. Finally, psychological symptomatology constituted an important link in the observed longitudinal chain of effects. More specifically, higher A1C values and symptomatology at Time 1 positively predicted withdrawal at Time 2, which, in turn, positively predicted symptomatology at Time 3. Next, symptomatology at Time 3 positively predicted higher A1C values at Time 4, thus coming full circle.
Coping with everyday stress, psychological symptoms, and glycemic control were interrelated across time. Evidence was obtained for reciprocal pathways and mutually reinforcing mechanisms, indicating the need to monitor coping strategies and psychological symptoms along with glycemic control in optimizing clinical care in adolescents with type 1 diabetes.
This study investigated how parenting accounted for inter-individual differences in developmental trajectories of different child behaviors across childhood and adolescence. In a cohort sequential community sample of 1,049 children, latent class growth analysis was applied to three parent-reported dimensions (monitoring, positive parenting, inconsistent discipline) across 12 annual assessments (ages 6–18). Four longitudinal parenting styles (authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, uninvolved) were differentiated on the basis of levels and rates of change in the constituent parenting dimensions. Multi-group analyses demonstrated that these parenting styles were differentially related to changes in parent- and child-reported measures of children’s alcohol and cigarette use, antisocial behavior, and internalizing symptoms, with the authoritative parenting class being related to the most optimal long-term development. Practical implications and future research suggestions are discussed.
adolescence; parenting; community sample; internalizing; externalizing; latent class growth analysis; developmental trajectories
To investigate whether maternal negative affectivity assessed in pregnancy is related to subsequent infant food choices.
Mothers (N = 37, 919) and their infants participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Maternal negative affectivity assessed pre-partum (SCL-5 at week 17 and 30 of pregnancy), introduction of solid foods by month 3, and feeding of sweet drinks by month 6 (by mothers’ reports).
Mothers with higher negative affectivity were 64% more likely (95% CI 1.5–1.8) to feed sweet drinks by month 6, and 79% more likely (95% CI 1.6–2.0) to introduce solid foods by month 3. These odds decreased to 41% and 30%, respectively, after adjusting for mother’s age, body mass index, and education.
The maternal trait of negative affectivity is an independent predictor of infant feeding practices that may be related to childhood weight gain, overweight, and obesity.
maternal feeding practices; negative affectivity; solid foods; sweet drinks
This study determined ethnic differences in anthropometric measures of a sample of adults in Hawaii, examining the effects of differing degrees of ethnic admixing and socioeconomic status (SES) on the measures. Adults who had attended elementary school in Hawaii underwent anthropometric measurements and answered questionnaires about their educational attainment, income, age, cultural identity, ethnic ancestry, and health. Individuals reporting Asian American cultural identity had significantly lower mean body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) than others, while those with Hawaiian/Pacific Islander cultural identity had significantly higher BMI and WC. Educational attainment, but not reported family income and age, was significantly related to BMI and WC, and differences in educational attainment accounted for the increased mean BMI and WC in Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, but did not account for the lower mean BMI and WC among Asian Americans. Higher percentage of Asian ancestry was significantly correlated with lower BMI and WC, whereas higher percentage of Hawaiian/Pacific Islander ancestry was significantly correlated with increased BMI and WC. Differences in education accounted for the significantly increased BMI in participants with a higher percentage of Hawaiian/Pacific Islander ancestry, but did not entirely account for the lower BMI in individuals with a higher percentage of Asian American ancestry. These results suggest that the high rate of obesity and its sequelae seen in Pacific Islanders may be more a result of socioeconomic status and lifestyle than of genetic propensity, while the lower rates of obesity observed in Asian American populations are less directly influenced by socioeconomic factors.
Measures of physiological dysregulation were evaluated on members of the Hawaii Personality and Health cohort (N = 470). Six measures were derived from 11 clinically assessed biomarkers, and related to health outcomes (self-rated health, and depressive symptoms), and health behaviors (smoking, alcohol use, dietary patterns, and physical activity). Measures summing extreme scores at one tail of the biomarker distributions performed better than ones summing extreme scores at both tails, and continuous measures performed better than count scores. Health behaviors predicted men’s dysregulation but not women’s. Dysregulation and health behaviors predicted self-rated health for both men and women, but depressive symptoms predicted self-rated health only for women. Findings from this study provide preliminary guidelines for constructing valid summary measures of global health status for use in health psychology.
Physiological dysregulation; self-rated health; global health status; biomarkers
Early pubertal timing is associated with early initiation of cigarettes and alcohol; we evaluated parental monitoring and affiliation with deviant peers in a moderated, mediational model of this relationship for both genders.
We tested a prospective model explaining the process through which pubertal timing is related to early use of cigarettes and alcohol for 360 fourth and fifth graders, following them for four years.
We found a relation between early pubertal maturation and trying cigarettes and alcohol without parents’ knowledge for both boys and girls. In addition, for both genders, parental monitoring moderated the association between pubertal timing and trying alcohol, but not trying cigarettes. Affiliation with deviant peers mediated the effect of pubertal timing on both alcohol and cigarette initiation for girls only.
While pathways to substance use differ by gender, both early maturing girls and boys should be regarded as high-risk populations for initiation of substances, and intervention programs may be more effective if they are targeted accordingly.
Substance use; Pubertal timing; Adolescence; Gender differences; Parental monitoring; Deviant peers
The present study predicts cigarette and alcohol use in adolescence from the development of children’s cognitions in the elementary years, beginning in the second through the fifth grade. Using Latent Growth Modeling, we examined a model using data from 712 participants in the Oregon Youth Substance Use Project, who were in the second through fifth grade at the first assessment and followed for six annual or semi-annual assessments over seven years. Growth in children’s prototypes and subjective norms in the elementary years (T1 through T4) were related to their substance use in adolescence (T6) through their willingness and intentions (T5) to smoke and drink. Across the sample, for both substances, the intercept and slope of prototypes were either indirectly related to use through willingness or directly related to use. Both the intercept and slope of subjective norms were indirectly related to use of both substances through both willingness and intentions, and directly related to cigarette use. Results suggest that elementary children have measurable cognitions regarding substance use, which develop during the elementary years, and predict use later in adolescence. These findings emphasize the need for prevention programs targeting changing children’s social images of substance users and encouraging more accurate perceptions of peers’ use.
alcohol; smoking; children; adolescence; cognitions
Increasing levels of youth obesity constitute a threat to the nation’s health, and identification of the influences during childhood that lead to youth obesity is urgently needed. Physical activity is one such influence that is potentially modifiable.
This study examined the influence of children’s social images of other children who engage in physical activity on the development of their own physical activity over 3 years and related growth in physical activity to levels of obesity 2 years later.
Participants (N = 846, 50% female) were members of the Oregon Youth Substance Use Project, a longitudinal study of a community sample. The racial/ethnic composition of the sample was 86% Caucasian; 7% Hispanic; 1% Black; and approximately 2% each of Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian, or Alaskan Native, and other or mixed race/ethni-ethnicity. The mean age at the first assessment was 9.5 years. A model examining the effect of early social images on the growth of physical activity (athleticism modeled as a curve of factors) predicting obesity was evaluated using latent growth modeling.
More favorable social images predicted the initial levels (i.e., intercept) but not the change over time (i.e., slope) of children’s athleticism, and both the intercept and the slope of athleticism predicted obesity.
Children’s social images of exercise in early childhood influence their subsequent activity levels, and hence obesity, and should be targeted in obesity prevention interventions.