Personality and risk of Alzheimer's disease: new data and meta-analysis

Alzheimers Dement. 2014 Mar;10(2):179-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2013.03.002. Epub 2013 May 21.


Background: We examine whether broad factors and specific facets of personality are associated with increased risk of incident Alzheimer's disease (AD) in a long-run longitudinal study and a meta-analysis of published studies.

Methods: Participants (n = 1671) were monitored for up to 22 years from a baseline personality assessment. The meta-analysis pooled results from up to five prospective studies (n = 5054).

Results: Individuals with scores in the top quartile of neuroticism (hazard ratio = 3.1; 95% confidence interval = 1.6-6.0) or the lowest quartile of conscientiousness (hazard ratio = 3.3; 95% confidence interval = 1.4-7.4) had a threefold increased risk of incident AD. Among the components of these traits, self-discipline and depression had the strongest associations with incident AD. The meta-analysis confirmed the associations of neuroticism (P = 2 × 10(-9)) and conscientiousness (P = 2 × 10(-6)), along with weaker effects for openness and agreeableness (P < .05).

Conclusions: The current study and meta-analysis indicate that personality traits are associated with increased risk of AD, with effect sizes similar to those of well-established clinical and lifestyle risk factors.

Keywords: APOE; Alzheimer's disease; Anxiety; Conscientiousness; Dementia; Depression; Meta-analysis; Neuroticism; Observational prospective study; Order; Self-discipline.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*