The Enduring Impact of Maladaptive Personality Traits on Relationship Quality and Health in Later Life


  • This research was supported by a grant from NIMH (RO1-MH077840). We are extremely grateful to Merlyn Rodrigues for managing this project and indebted to Amber Wilson, Josh Oltmanns, Rickey Louis, Tami Curl, and Andy Shields for their conscientious efforts in organizing the data and in recruiting and interviewing our participants.


Over the past 5 years, the St. Louis Personality and Aging Network (SPAN) has been collecting data on personality in later life with an emphasis on maladaptive personality, social integration, and health outcomes in a representative sample of 1,630 adults aged 55–64 living in the St. Louis area. This program has confirmed the importance of considering both the normal range of personality and in particular the role of maladaptive traits in order to understand individuals' relationships, life events, and health outcomes. In the current article, we discuss the explanatory benefits of considering maladaptive traits or traits associated with personality disorders when discussing the role of personality in social and health outcomes, with an emphasis on adults in middle to later life, and integrate these findings into the greater literature.