This study investigated the associations of trajectories of cigarette smoking over the high school years with the prior development of childhood sensation seeking and the subsequent use of cigarettes and hookah at age 20/21.
Participants (N = 963) were members of a cohort-sequential longitudinal study, the Oregon Youth Substance Use Project. Sensation seeking was assessed across 4th–8th grades and cigarette smoking was assessed across 9th–12th grades. Cigarette and hookah use was assessed at age 20/21 for 684 of the 963 participants.
Four trajectory classes were identified: Stable High Smokers (6%), Rapid Escalators (8%), Experimenters (15%), and Stable Nonsmokers or very occasional smokers (71%). Membership in any smoker class versus nonsmokers was predicted by initial level and growth of sensation seeking. At age 20/21, there was a positive association between smoking and hookah use for Nonsmokers and Experimenters in high school, whereas this association was not significant for Stable High Smokers or Rapid Escalators.
Level and rate of growth of sensation seeking are risk factors for adolescent smoking during high school (Stable High Smokers, Rapid Escalators, and Experimenters), suggesting the need for interventions to reduce the rate of increase in childhood sensation seeking. For those who were not already established smokers by the end of high school, hookah use may have served as a gateway to smoking.
Many lifespan personality-and-health models assume that childhood personality traits result in life-course pathways leading through morbidity to mortality. Although childhood conscientiousness in particular predicts mortality, there are few prospective studies that have investigated the associations between childhood personality and objective health status in adulthood. The present study tested this crucial assumption of lifespan models of personality and health using a comprehensive assessment of the Big Five traits in childhood (M age = 10 years) and biomarkers of health over 40 years later (M age = 51 years).
Members of the Hawaii Personality and Health Cohort (N = 753, 368 men, 385 women) underwent a medical examination at mean age 51. Their global health status was evaluated by well-established clinical indicators that were objectively measured using standard protocols, including blood pressure, lipid profile, fasting blood glucose, and body mass index. These indicators were combined to evaluate overall physiological dysregulation, and grouped into five more homogeneous subcomponents (glucose intolerance, blood pressure, lipids, obesity, and medications).
Lower levels of childhood conscientiousness predicted more physiological dysregulation (β = −.11, p < .05), greater obesity (β = − .10, p < .05), and worse lipid profiles (β = −.10, p < .05), after controlling for the other Big Five childhood personality traits, gender, ethnicity, parental home ownership, and adult conscientiousness.
These findings are consistent with a key assumption in lifespan models that childhood conscientiousness is associated with objective health status in older adults. They open the way for testing mechanisms by which childhood personality may influence mortality through morbidity; mechanisms that could then be targeted for intervention.
Big Five traits; global health status; physiological dysregulation; lifespan models
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
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
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;
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
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
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
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
We report on the longitudinal stability of personality traits across an average 40 years in the Hawaii Personality and Health Cohort relating childhood teacher assessments of personality to adult self- and observer- reports. Stabilities based on self-ratings in adulthood were compared to those measured by the Structured Interview for the Five-Factor Model (SIFFM; Trull & Widiger, 1997), and trait ratings completed by interviewers. Although convergence between self-reports and observer-ratings was modest, childhood traits demonstrated similar levels of stability across methods in adulthood. Extraversion and Conscientiousness generally showed higher stabilities, whereas Neuroticism showed none. For Agreeableness and Intellect/Openness, stability was highest when assessed with observer-ratings. These findings are discussed in terms of differences in trait evaluativeness and observability across measurement methods.
personality stability; Big Five; person perception; judgment accuracy; Self-Other
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.
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
To evaluate ethnic group differences in the association between trauma exposure and health status among an ethnically diverse sample originating in Hawai‘i.
Across a ten-year period (1998–2008), participants (N = 833) completed five waves of questionnaire assessments. Trauma exposure was measured retrospectively at the most recent assessment (wave 5), socioeconomic resources (educational attainment and employment status) were measured at wave 1, and self-rated health was measured at each of the five waves.
Results indicated that greater exposure to trauma was associated with poorer self-rated health, as were lower educational attainment and lower work status. In addition there was ethnic group variation in health ratings, as well as in how strongly trauma exposure predicted health status. Specifically, within Filipino American and Native Hawaiian ethnic groups, there was a stronger negative association between trauma exposure and self-rated health.
These results suggest complex interrelations among trauma, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and physical health. Further understanding these relations may have implications for medical and behavioral interventions in vulnerable populations.
Self-rated health; ethnicity; Native Hawaiians; socioeconomic resources
Research samples are not often compared to broader community samples to evaluate their representativeness, a critical factor in determining the generalizability of study findings. This study evaluated the use of voter-registration records for recruiting a representative sample of community-dwelling, older, and overweight participants for research on improving measures of diet and physical activity. County voter-registration records were used to identify individuals between 45 and 75 years of age and living in the two cities closest to the research lab. The data were collected from July, 2007 through November, 2008. Prospective participants were mailed an introductory letter and opt-out postcard, and received a follow-up recruitment phone call in which they underwent further screening if interested in participating. The representativeness of the final voter-recruited sample (N = 191) was evaluated by comparisons of demographic variables with Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data at the county and state levels. The voter-recruited sample was only partially comparable to that of the BRFSS sample, with expected differences in variables related to race/ethnicity, the proportion of women, employment status, and educational attainment. Voter-registration records are a relatively low-cost ($75 per participant) method of recruiting a community sample that avoids some biases of other recruitment methods, but may not achieve a fully representative sample.
Research recruitment; Voter registration; Reach; Sample representativeness
To investigate whether temperament in 1.5-year-olds predicts their consumption of potentially obesogenic foods and drinks at ages 3 and 7 years.
Participants were 6 997 mothers and infants from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Questionnaires were collected during pregnancy, at birth, and at child ages 6 months and 1.5, 3, and 7 years. Predictor variables: children’s temperament at age 1.5 (internalizing, externalizing, surgent) and mothers’ negative affectivity. Outcome variables: children’s consumption of sweet foods, sweet drinks, and fruits/vegetables at ages 3 and 7 (dichotomized at the 85th percentile).
Controlling for covariates, internalizing 1.5-year-olds (anxious, dependent) were 77% and 63% more likely to consume sweet drinks daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively; they were 55% and 43% more likely to consume sweet foods daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. Externalizing 1.5-year-olds (hyperactive, aggressive) were 34% more likely to consume sweet drinks daily at age 7, 39% and 44% more likely to consume sweet foods daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively, and they were 47% and 33% less likely to consume fruits/vegetables daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. Surgent 1.5-year-olds (active, sociable) were 197% and 78% more likely to consume two portions of fruits/vegetables daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. The association of maternal negative affectivity was limited to the child’s consumption of sweet foods at 3 and 7 years.
Early child temperament is a risk factor for obesogenic diet in later childhood. Mechanisms explaining this association need to be explored.
child; temperament; obesity; diet; eating
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
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
Validated self-report methods of dietary assessment exist, and might be improved both in terms of accuracy and cost-efficiency with computer technology. The objectives of this preliminary study were to develop an initial version of an interactive CD-ROM program to estimate fruit, vegetable, and fat intake, and to compare it to multiple 24-hour dietary recalls (24HR; averaged over 3 days). In 2009, overweight male and female adults (N = 205) from Lane County, OR completed computerized and paper versions of fruit, vegetable, and fat screening instruments, and multiple 24HR. Summary scores from the ten-item NCI Fruit and Vegetable Scan (FVS) and the 18-item Block Fat Screener (BFS) were compared to multiple 24HR-derived fruit/vegetable and fat intake estimates (criterion measures). Measurement models were used to derive deattenuated correlations with multiple 24HR of paper and CD-ROM administrations of FVS fruit intake, FVS vegetable intake, FVS fruit and vegetable intake, and BFS fat intake. The computerized assessment and paper surveys were related to multiple 24HR-derived fruit/vegetable and fat intake. Deattenuated correlation coefficients ranged from 0.50 to 0.73 (all P ≤0.0001). The CD-ROM-derived estimate of fruit intake was more closely associated with the 24HR (r=0.73) than the paper-derived estimate (r=0.54; P<.05), but the other comparisons did not differ significantly. Findings from this preliminary study with overweight adults indicate the need for further enhancements to the CD-ROM assessment and more extensive validation studies.
food portion estimation; fruit and vegetable intake; fat intake; overweight adults
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