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J Psychosom Res. 2012 May;72(5):336-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 Mar 15.

Associations between dimensional personality measures and preclinical atherosclerosis: the cardiovascular risk in Young Finns study.

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IBS, Unit of Personality, Work and Health Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



To assess how multidimensional personality-trait theories, such as the Psychobiological Model of Temperament and Character, and the Five-factor Model of Personality, are associated with subclinical atherosclerosis as indicated by carotid intima-media thickness (IMT). The analysis was designed to tolerate non-linear development in which the same personality profiles can have multiple final outcomes and different antecedent profiles can have the same final outcome.


605 men and 844 women (average age 31.6year, s.d.=5.0, range=24-39) provided data on IMT and traits of the psychobiological model, 725 men and 1011 women were assessed for IMT and the five-factor model (age 37.7year, s.d.=5.0, range=30-45). Robust multidimensional Hotelling's T(2) statistic was used to detect personality differences between participants with high IMT and others. Model-based clustering method further explored the effect.


Those with a high level of subclinical atherosclerosis within the sample (highest IMT-decile) had a combined higher persistence (i.e., were perseverative or perfectionistic), more disorganized (schizotypal) character, and more antisocial temperamental configuration than others (P=0.019). No effect was found for the five-factor model (P=0.978). Traditional methods that did not account for multidimensionality and nonlinearity did not detect an association.


Psychological well-being may have positive effects on health that reduce atherosclerosis in the population as a whole. Increased subclinical atherosclerosis was associated with a profile that combines known risk factors, such as cynical distrust and hostile tendencies. More frequent use of statistical procedures that can cope with non-linear interactions in complex psychobiological systems may facilitate scientific advances in health promotion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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