Personality: Life span compass for health


Journal Article

Personality is crucial for understanding health in later life. Yet classic conceptions of personality with emphasis on stability may have limited the empirical attention it deserved in relation to health. This chapter highlights the six foci of a personality model that integrates structures and processes within a level-ofanalysis framework that affords increased opportunities for health interventions and changes. The first level of the six-foci model includes traits, the broad and universal descriptions of a person that are relatively stable across time, and states, the moment-to-moment changes a person experiences. The second level of the six-foci model is composed of personal action constructs that emphasize the goal directedness of behavior and the self-regulatory processes involved in working toward goals. The third level of the six-foci model includes the life story, and processes of self-narration, such as remembering, reminiscing, and storytelling necessary for creating life stories. Brief reviews of relevant health research and suggestions for future research are highlighted in the overview. A compass metaphor portrays the dynamics and overall direction that personality provides for developmental health trajectories and lives. Results from the UNC Alumni Heart Study, a long-term longitudinal study of traits and risk factors for disease and health outcomes, are reviewed. The emerging literature on personality and its relationship to Alzheimer's disease is also examined. The last section of the chapter is a review of micro-longitudinal, state-like "in situ" studies of personality and health with dense measurements over more limited temporal spans. The time-sampling studies require new methodological approaches that are providing intriguing new evidence of how personality in context creates health and increases our understanding of development in adulthood. © 2010 Springer Publishing Company.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hooker, K; Hoppmann, C; Siegler, IC

Published Date

  • January 1, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 30 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 201 - 232

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0198-8794

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1891/0198-8794.30.201

Citation Source

  • Scopus