Linking big five personality traits to sexuality and sexual health: A meta-analytic review

Psychol Bull. 2018 Oct;144(10):1081-1110. doi: 10.1037/bul0000157. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


This meta-analytic review addresses whether the major dimensions of trait personality relate to components of human sexuality. A comprehensive literature search identified 137 studies that met inclusion criteria (761 effect sizes; total n = 420,595). Pooled mean effects were computed using inverse-variance weighted random effects meta-analysis. Mean effect sizes from 100 separate meta-analyses provided evidence that personality relates to theoretically predicted components of sexuality and sexual health. Neuroticism was positively related to sexual dissatisfaction (r+ = .18), negative emotions (r+ = .42), and symptoms of sexual dysfunction (r+ = .16). Extraversion was positively related to sexual activity (r+ = .17) and risky sexual behavior (r+ = .18), and negatively related to symptoms of sexual dysfunction (r+ = -.17). Openness was positively related to homosexual orientation (r+ = .16) and liberal attitudes toward sex (r+ = .19). Agreeableness and conscientiousness were negatively related to sexually aggressive behavior (r+ = -.20; r+ = -.14) and sexual infidelity (r+ = -.18; r+ = -.17). Less robust evidence indicated that extraversion related negatively, and neuroticism positively, to child sexual abuse, and that openness related negatively to homophobic attitudes. Random effects metaregression identified age, gender, and study quality as important moderators of pooled mean effects. These findings might be of interest to health care professionals developing health care services that aim to promote sexually healthy societies. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Personality / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Sexual Health*
  • Sexuality / physiology*