Timing of Stressful Life Events Affects Stability and Change of Neuroticism
Article first published online: 11 JUL 2013
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Personality
Volume 28, Issue 2, pages 193–200, March/April 2014
How to Cite
Riese, H., Snieder, H., Jeronimus, B. F., Korhonen, T., Rose, R. J., Kaprio, J. and Ormel, J. (2014), Timing of Stressful Life Events Affects Stability and Change of Neuroticism. Eur. J. Pers., 28: 193–200. doi: 10.1002/per.1929
- Issue published online: 9 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 11 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 21 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 21 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 12 SEP 2012
- Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in Complex Disease Genetics. Grant Numbers: 213506, 129680
- life events;
- twin register
Neuroticism is a predictor of many health problems. To study the determinants of within-subject change in neuroticism, three hypotheses were tested: (i) subjects who experienced stressful life events (SLEs) show an increase in neuroticism; (ii) high baseline neuroticism moderated this effect; and (iii) recent SLEs had a greater impact on neuroticism than distant SLEs. Data came from the Finnish Twin Cohort. Neuroticism data were collected in 1975 and 1981 and SLEs data in 1981 (n = 21 085). By entering baseline neuroticism as a predictor for neuroticism at follow-up, the outcome measure was change in neuroticism. Changes in neuroticism were predicted from SLE indices or their interaction with baseline neuroticism. Timing of SLEs was taken into account by distinguishing recent from distant SLEs. To control for confounding by shared genes and environments, both within-twin pair and between-twin pair effects were tested for monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs separately. Neuroticism's six-year stability was high (r = .58, p < .001). Exposure to SLEs modestly increased neuroticism (βs > .55, ps < .001), unconfounded by shared genes. This effect was not moderated by high baseline neuroticism. Recent SLEs (.09 < βs < .15) had more impact than distant SLEs (.03 < βs < .11; ps < .01). In conclusion, the findings strongly supported a model of environmentally driven SLEs causing dynamic fluctuations around a person's set point of neuroticism. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.