Personality and the perception of health in the general population

Psychol Med. 2002 Feb;32(2):325-32. doi: 10.1017/s0033291701005104.


Background: Several population-based studies have shown that self-perceived health is a powerful predictor of health outcomes. The extent to which self-perceived health is associated with personality characteristics is, however, largely unknown. We aimed to study the relationship between self-perceived health and personality among adults in the community.

Method: Data were drawn from the Midlife Development in the United States Survey, a representative sample of adults age 25-74. MANOVA was used to determine the relationship between self-perception of health and personality using the five-factor model.

Results: Personality factors were significantly associated with perception of poor health. Among those without self-reported medical problems (N = 834), openness to experience, extraversion and conscientiousness were associated with perception of good health, while neuroticism was associated with the perception of poor health. In subjects with self-reported medical problems (N = 2772), high scores on agreeableness, openness to experience, extraversion and conscientiousness, and low neuroticism scores were associated with perception of good health. These associations remained significant after adjustments for age, gender, race, marital status and education.

Conclusions: Self-perceived health is strongly associated with personality characteristics, both in subjects with and without self-reported medical problems. It is suggested that personality characteristics could contribute to the previously reported associations between self-perceived health and health outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Behavior
  • United States