SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

ABSTRACT This study explored pre-bereavement personality traits and gender as predictors of post-widowhood mortality risk, using newly derived life span data for participants originally recruited for Lewis Terman's classic study of the gifted. Personality traits measured in 1940 were used to predict mortality risk from 1940 through 2004 for married participants who were either widowed between 1940 and 1986 or who remained married. Results indicated that widowhood predicted a decrease in mortality risk for these (intelligent) individuals (relative hazard [rh]=0.68, N=843, p<.001) and neuroticism significantly moderated this effect. Specifically, neuroticism in young adulthood was significantly associated with decreased mortality risk among men who were later widowed (rh=0.50, N=66, p<.02) but not among women or consistently married men. Conclusions reveal the importance of personality–situation interactions and the adoption of a long-term perspective.