The case for conscientiousness: evidence and implications for a personality trait marker of health and longevity

Ann Behav Med. 2013 Jun;45(3):278-88. doi: 10.1007/s12160-012-9454-6.


Purpose: Recent initiatives by major funding agencies have emphasized translational and personalized approaches (e.g., genetic testing) to health research and health management. While such directives are appropriate, and will likely produce tangible health benefits, we seek to highlight a confluence of several lines of research showing relations between the personality dimension of conscientiousness and a variety of health-related outcomes.

Methods: Using a modified health process model, we review the compelling evidence linking conscientiousness to health and disease processes, including longevity, diseases, morbidity-related risk factors, health-related psychophysiological mechanisms, health-related behaviors, and social environmental factors related to health.

Conclusion: We argue the accumulated evidence supports greater integration of conscientiousness into public health, epidemiological, and medical research, with the ultimate aim of understanding how facilitating more optimal trait standing might foster better health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Personality*
  • Risk Factors