Personality differences predict health-risk behaviors in young adulthood: evidence from a longitudinal study.
In a longitudinal study of a birth cohort, the authors identified youth involved in each of 4 different health-risk behaviors at age 21: alcohol dependence, violent crime, unsafe sex, and dangerous driving habits. At age 18, the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) was used to assess 10 distinct personality traits. At age 3, observational measures were used to classify children into distinct temperament groups. Results showed that a similar constellation of adolescent personality traits, with developmental origins in childhood, is linked to different health-risk behaviors at 21. Associations between the same personality traits and different health-risk behaviors were not an artifact of the same people engaging in different health-risk behaviors; rather, these associations implicated the same personality type in different but related behaviors. In planning campaigns, health professionals may need to design programs that appeal to the unique psychological makeup of persons most at risk for health-risk behaviors.
Caspi, A; Begg, D; Dickson, N; Harrington, H; Langley, J; Moffitt, TE; Silva, PA
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