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A Longitudinal Study of the Relationships Between Conscientiousness and the Social- Environmental Factors and Substance-Use Behaviors That Influence Health


  • This research was supported by a grant from the Research Board of the University of Illinois, Grants R03 AG19414 and R01 AG21178 from the National Institute of Aging, and Grant MH-43948 to Ravenna Helson from the National Institute of Mental Health. We thank Ravenna Helson, Avshalom Caspi, Sarah Hampson, and Kate Walton for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

should be addressed to: Brent W. Roberts, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820,


The present study tested the relationships among conscientiousness-related traits, social-environmental factors that affect health, and substance-use behaviors across a 30-year period from age 21 to age 52 in the Mills Longitudinal study of women (N=99). Results showed that the trait of social responsibility (a facet of conscientiousness) assessed at age 21 predicted family, work, and substance use outcomes at midlife (age 43 and age 52). In turn, marital quality, duration of marriage, divorce, participating in paid work, status level of work, and marijuana consumption were associated with changes in social responsibility. The implications for personality, health, and personality development are discussed.