A 37-year prospective study of neuroticism and extraversion in women followed from mid-life to late life

Authors

  • E. Billstedt,

    Corresponding author
    1. Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
    2. Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
    • Eva Billstedt, Gillberg Neuropsychiatric Centre, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Kungsgatan 12, 411 19 Gothenburg, Sweden.

      E-mail: eva.billstedt@gnc.gu.se

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  • I. Skoog,

    1. Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • P. Duberstein,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NewYork, US
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  • T. Marlow,

    1. Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • T. Hällström,

    1. Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
    2. Section for Psychiatry/Huddinge, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • M. André,

    1. Department of Primary Health Care, Sahlgrenska School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
    2. Centre for Clinical Research, Falun, Dalarna, Sweden
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  • L. Lissner,

    1. Department of Public Health Epidemiology, Sahlgrenska School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • C. Björkelund,

    1. Department of Primary Health Care, Sahlgrenska School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • S. Östling,

    1. Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • M. Waern

    1. Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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Abstract

Objective

Personality traits are presumed to endure over time, but the literature regarding older age is sparse. Furthermore, interpretation may be hampered by the presence of dementia-related personality changes. The aim was to study stability in neuroticism and extraversion in a population sample of women who were followed from mid-life to late life.

Method

A population-based sample of women born in 1918, 1922 or 1930 was examined with the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) in 1968–1969. EPI was assessed after 37 years in 2005–2006 (n = 153). Data from an interim examination after 24 years were analysed for the subsample born in 1918 and 1922 (= 75). Women who developed dementia at follow-up examinations were excluded from the analyses.

Results

Mean levels of neuroticism and extraversion were stable at both follow-ups. Rank-order and linear correlations between baseline and 37-year follow-up were moderate ranging between 0.49 and 0.69. Individual changes were observed, and only 25% of the variance in personality traits in 2005–2006 could be explained by traits in 1968–1969.

Conclusion

Personality is stable at the population level, but there is significant individual variability. These changes could not be attributed to dementia. Research is needed to examine determinants of these changes, as well as their clinical implications.

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