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J Res Pers. 2012 Jun 1;46(3):295-305.

Personality and Substance Use in Midlife: Conscientiousness as a Moderator and the Effects of Trait Change.

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Purdue University Department of Human Development & Family Studies, 1200 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN.


Personality traits predict substance use in adolescence, but less is known about prospective substance use in middle age and beyond. Moreover, there is growing interest in how personality change and the multiplicative effects among personality traits relate to substance use. Participants included approximately 4,000 adults aged 25-74 who participated in two waves of the Midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS) study. Higher levels of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, and lower levels of conscientiousness and agreeableness predicted longitudinal substance use. Increases in neuroticism and openness predicted increased substance use while increases in conscientiousness and agreeableness predicted decreased substance use. Higher levels of conscientiousness moderated two of the other trait main effects. Personality, trait change, and interactions among traits reliably forecasted 10-year substance-use behaviors.

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