Childhood conscientiousness and longevity: health behaviors and cause of death

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1995 Apr;68(4):696-703. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.68.4.696.


Previous research showed that conscientiousness (social dependability) in childhood predicted longevity in an archival prospective cohort study of bright children first studied by Terman in the 1920s (H. S. Friedman et al., 1993). Possible behavioral mechanisms for this robust association are now examined by gathering cause of death information and by considering the possible mediating influences of drinking alcohol, smoking, and overeating. Survival analyses (N = 1,215) suggest that the protective effect of conscientiousness is not primarily due to accident avoidance and cannot be mostly explained by abstinence from unhealthy substance intake. Conscientiousness may have more wide-ranging effects on health-relevant activities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / mortality
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Cause of Death*
  • Child
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Development*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smoking / mortality
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Social Responsibility*