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. 2013 Jun;75(5):505-9.
doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182919ff4. Epub 2013 May 22.

Personality Traits and Leptin

Free PMC article

Personality Traits and Leptin

Angelina R Sutin et al. Psychosom Med. .
Free PMC article


Objective: Personality traits related to high neuroticism and low conscientiousness are consistently associated with obesity. Hormones implicated in appetite and metabolism, such as leptin, may also be related to personality and may contribute to the association between these traits and obesity. The present research examined the association between leptin and Five Factor Model personality traits.

Methods: A total of 5214 participants (58% women; mean [standard deviation] age = 44.42 [15.93] years; range, 18-94 years) from the SardiNIA project completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory, a comprehensive measure of personality traits, and their blood samples were assayed for leptin.

Results: As expected, lower conscientiousness was associated with higher circulating levels of leptin (r = -0.05, p < .001), even after controlling for body mass index, waist circumference, or inflammatory markers (r = -0.05, p < .001). Neuroticism, in contrast, was unrelated to leptin (r = 0.01, p = .31).

Conclusions: Individuals who are impulsive and lack discipline (low conscientiousness) may develop leptin resistance, which could be one factor that contributes to obesity, whereas the relation between a proneness to anxiety and depression (high neuroticism) and obesity may be mediated through other physiological and/or behavioral pathways.

Keywords: appetite; conscientiousness; depression; impulsivity; inflammation; leptin; neuroticism; obesity; personality traits; self-discipline.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Association between N5: Impulsiveness and leptin plotted separately for older (aged >=50) and younger (aged<50) participants. F(7,5206)=90.99, p <.001.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Model showing that leptin mediates the association between Conscientiousness and body mass index. All coefficients control for age, age squared, sex, education, and test administration.

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