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Keywords:

  • Stress;
  • Hassles;
  • Personality;
  • Affect;
  • Daily Diaries;
  • Multilevel modelling;
  • Attrition

Objectives

Higher conscientiousness (C) predicts better health outcomes. Recent research suggests that stress may play an important role in explaining this relationship. The current study aimed to establish whether C moderates the relationship between daily hassle appraisals, daily affect, and physical symptoms.

Design and Methods

A daily diary design was used, where participants (N = 103) completed a baseline measure of C followed by a 14-day daily diary, providing daily details of hassles (primary and secondary appraisals) experienced as well as positive and negative affect and physical symptoms.

Results

Hierarchical linear modelling revealed that Total C (as well as two facets of C: Order and Industriousness) moderated the relationship between stress appraisals and positive affect. Specifically, the negative association between the daily appraisal of hassles as stressful (i.e., where perceived demands outweighed perceived resources) and positive affect was stronger for lower and average levels of C, Order, and Industriousness. No significant moderated effects were found for negative affect or physical symptoms. The Order facet was also found to be an important factor predicting attrition.

Conclusions

The current study provided evidence that C and two of its facets can moderate the relationship between hassle appraisal and positive affect. C may exert part of its influence on health by modifying the effects of daily stressors.

Statement of contribution

What is already known on this subject? Conscientiousness has a significant positive effect on longevity and health status. While the performance of health behaviours may partially account for this relationship, evidence suggests that it does not fully mediate the effect. Research has begun to look at stress as a possible additional explanatory variable, and there is evidence that Conscientiousness moderates the relationship between stress and health behaviours.

What does this study add?

  • Shows that Conscientiousness and two of its facets (Order and Industriousness) moderate the relationship between hassle appraisal and positive affect.
  • Highlights the importance of studying lower order facets of personality in health research.
  • Suggests that Conscientiousness may exert part of its influence on health by modifying the effects of daily stressors.