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Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2006;63(3):241-57.

Personality, aging self-perceptions, and subjective health: a mediation model.

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Center for Gerontology, University of Z├╝rich, Switzerland.


Since the global item of subjective health has emerged as a strong predictor of important health outcomes such as mortality, there have been many attempts to uncover its correlates. In this study, we tested whether personality as assessed via the five-factor model of personality predicted subjective health when physician-rated health and depression were controlled for. We analyzed a cohort of 362 German community-dwelling 60-year-olds from the first wave of the ongoing Interdisciplinary Longitudinal Study on Aging. We found that neuroticism, but none of the other four personality factors, predicted subjective health. However, the association between neuroticism and subjective health was mediated by aging self-stereotypes (attitudes toward oneself as an aging person), which in recent studies have been shown to influence older individuals' health behaviors and functional health. The results indicate that those high in neuroticism tend to have more negative aging self-stereotypes; these aging self-stereotypes, in turn, seem to affect how those individuals globally perceive their own health. Unlike many predictors of subjective health, such as age, gender, socio-cultural differences, actual health, or personality traits, negative attitudes about one's own aging may be modified through adequate intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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