Kinnunen, M.-L., Metsäpelto, R. L., Feldt, T., Kokko, K., Tolvanen, A., Kinnunen, U., Leppänen, E. & Pulkkinen, L. (2012). Personality profiles and health: Longitudinal evidence among Finnish adults. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 512–522.
This study investigates the associations of longitudinal Big Five personality profiles with long-term health in 304 adults (53% males). Personality traits (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness) were assessed at ages 33, 42, and 50. Subjective (self-rated health, symptoms, psychological distress) and objective (body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides) indicators of health were measured at ages 42 and 50. Five longitudinally stable personality profiles were extracted over 17 years by latent profile analysis. The levels of traits were the same in each profile at each age. Resilient individuals (N = 65; Neuroticism low, other traits high) had the best subjective health and Overcontrolled individuals (N = 40; Neuroticism high, other traits low) the poorest health over eight years. Reserved individuals (N = 25; high Conscientiousness, other traits low), Undercontrolled (N = 41; high Openness and Extraversion, low Conscientiousness), and Ordinary (N = 133; all traits scored medium) individuals were in the middle of these extremes in subjective health. No differences between the profiles were found in the objective indicators of health. Thus, overcontrol and resilience were most discriminative in terms of good health. Moreover, personality profiles revealed associations with health to be more nuanced than simply being composed of single traits. High Extraversion needed to be combined with high Conscientiousness (Resilients) in order to be associated with the best health; high Extraversion with low Conscientiousness (Undercontrolled) was associated with average health; and low Extraversion with high Neuroticism (Overcontrolled) was associated with the poorest health.