Day-to-day physical symptoms: individual differences in the occurrence, duration, and emotional concomitants of minor daily illnesses

J Pers. 1991 Sep;59(3):387-423. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1991.tb00254.x.


Even minor illnesses represent significant events in the ongoing lives of most people. As such, daily event methodologies could be applied to the study of ongoing health and illness. When daily health is considered as a temporal process, it is possible to expand our formulation of the relation between personality and day-to-day health. We used a daily event approach to model three temporal parameters of day-to-day health: the occurrence rate of symptoms, the duration of symptoms, and the covariation of symptoms and moods over time. We then examine whether these three models of day-to-day health are related to personality variables commonly used in health psychology research. The occurrence of illness related most strongly to neuroticism, the duration of illness related most strongly to the trait of aggressive responding, and Type A behavior related to less unpleasant affect reported during episodes of respiratory infection, aches, and depressive symptoms. Results are discussed in terms of how alternative models of health/illness are made possible by the daily event perspective.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adult
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Male
  • Neurotic Disorders / psychology
  • Personality Development
  • Personality Inventory
  • Risk Factors
  • Sick Role*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Type A Personality