Conscientiousness and health-related behaviors: a meta-analysis of the leading behavioral contributors to mortality

Psychol Bull. 2004 Nov;130(6):887-919. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.130.6.887.


Previous research has established conscientiousness as a predictor of longevity (H. S. Friedman et al., 1993; L. R. Martin & H. S. Friedman, 2000). To better understand this relationship, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of conscientiousness-related traits and the leading behavioral contributors to mortality in the United States (tobacco use, diet and activity patterns, excessive alcohol use, violence, risky sexual behavior, risky driving, suicide, and drug use). Data sources were located by combining conscientiousness-related terms and relevant health-related behavior terms in database searches as well as by retrieving dissertations and requesting unpublished data from electronic mailing lists. The resulting database contained 194 studies that were quantitatively synthesized. Results showed that conscientiousness-related traits were negatively related to all risky health-related behaviors and positively related to all beneficial health-related behaviors. This study demonstrates the importance of conscientiousness' contribution to the health process through its relationship to health-related behaviors.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Risk-Taking
  • Social Behavior*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / mortality*