Send to

Choose Destination
J Epidemiol Community Health. 2019 Feb;73(2):106-110. doi: 10.1136/jech-2018-211076. Epub 2018 Nov 20.

High school personality traits and 48-year all-cause mortality risk: results from a national sample of 26 845 baby boomers.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA.
Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA.
American Institute for Research, Washington DC, District of Columbia, USA.
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.



It is unclear if adolescent personality predicts mortality into late life, independent of adolescent socioeconomic status (SES).


Over 26 000 members of Project Talent, a US population cohort of high school students, completed a survey including 10 personality scales and SES in 1960. Multi-source mortality follow-up obtained vital status data through an average 48-year period ending in 2009. Cox proportional hazard models examined the relative risk associated with personality traits, as well as confounding by both a measure of SES and by race/ethnicity.


Adjusted for sex and grade, higher levels of vigour, calm, culture, maturity and social sensitivity in high school were associated with reduced mortality risk (HRs=0.92 to. 96), while higher levels of impulsivity were associated with greater mortality risk. Further adjustment for SES and school racial/ethnic composition mildly attenuated (eg, 12%), but did not eliminate these associations. Final HRs for a 1 SD change in personality traits were similar to that for a 1 SD change in SES.


Adaptive personality traits in high school are associated with all-cause mortality in the USA as far into the future as the seventh decade, and to a degree similar to high school socioeconomic disadvantage.


all-cause mortality; life course epidemiology; personality traits; project talent

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center