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The Lower Subjective Social Status of Neurotic Individuals: Multiple Pathways Through Occupational Prestige, Income, and Illness


  • All three authors are affiliated with the Department of Psychology, Concordia University, and are also affiliated with the Center for Research in Human Development, Concordia University. The study was conducted as a part of Giuseppe Alfonsi's doctoral research under the supervision of Michael Conway. Giuseppe Alfonsi was funded in his research by the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC). The study was part of a larger research project, which itself was funded by a grant awarded to Dolores Pushkar, Michael Conway, and other investigators by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). Results from this study were presented at the 11th Annual Society of Personality and Social Psychology Conference, 2010.

concerning this article should be addressed to Michael Conway, Department of Psychology and Center for Research in Human Development, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H4B 1R6. Email:


ABSTRACT Subjective social status seems to predict health outcomes, above and beyond the contribution of objective status. The present hypothesis was that neuroticism predicts subjective status and does so via the influence of neuroticism on objective status (i.e., education, occupation, and income), self-perceived illness, and greater negative affect. In turn, lower subjective status would be associated with more severe self-perceived illness. Older adults (N=341) shortly after retirement completed measures of neuroticism, attainment in education, occupation, and salary, and over 2 subsequent years, they completed measures of current subjective status, self-reported illness, and current negative affect. As hypothesized, greater neuroticism was associated with lower subjective status via lower objective status and more severe self-reported illness. However, current negative affect was not associated with subjective status, and subjective status did not predict future poorer subjective health.