Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

For Your Health, Pick A Mate Who Is Conscientious And, Perhaps, Also Neurotic

Date:
May 6, 2009
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Conscientiousness is a good thing in a mate, researchers report, not just because it's easier to live with someone who washes the dishes without being asked, but also because having a conscientious partner may actually be good for one's health. Their study, of adults over age 50, also found that women, but not men, get an added health benefit when paired with someone who is conscientious and neurotic.

University of Illinois psychology professor Brent Roberts led a study that found that having a conscientious spouse can improve one's health.
Credit: Thompson-McClellan

Conscientiousness is a good thing in a mate, researchers report, not just because it's easier to live with someone who washes the dishes without being asked, but also because having a conscientious partner may actually be good for one's health. Their study, of adults over age 50, also found that women, but not men, get an added health benefit when paired with someone who is conscientious and neurotic.

This is the first large-scale analysis of what the authors call the "compensatory conscientiousness effect," the boost in health reported by those with conscientious spouses or romantic partners. The study appears this month in Psychological Science.

"Highly conscientious people are more organized and responsible and tend to follow through with their obligations, to be more impulse controlled and to follow rules," said University of Illinois psychology professor Brent Roberts, who led the study. Highly neurotic people tend to be more moody and anxious, and to worry, he said.

Researchers have known since the early 1990s that people who are more conscientious tend to live longer than those who are less so. They are more likely to exercise, eat nutritious foods and adhere to vitamin or drug regimens, and are less likely to smoke, abuse drugs or take unwarranted risks, all of which may explain their better health. They also tend to have more stable relationships than people with low conscientiousness.

Most studies have found a very different outcome for people who are highly neurotic. They tend to report poorer health and less satisfying relationships.

Many studies focus on how specific personality traits may affect one's own health, Roberts said, but few have considered how one's personality can influence the health of another.

"There's been kind of an individualistic bias in personality research," he said. "But human beings are not islands. We are an incredibly interdependent species."

Roberts and his colleagues at the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan looked at the association of personality and self-reported health among more than 2,000 couples taking part in the Health and Retirement Study, a representative study of the U.S. population over age 50. The study asked participants to rate their own levels of neuroticism and conscientiousness and to answer questions about the quality of their health. Participants also filled out a questionnaire that asked them whether or not a health problem limited their ability to engage in a range of activities such as jogging one block, climbing a flight of stairs, shopping, dressing or bathing.

As other studies have found, the researchers found that those who described themselves as highly conscientious also reported better health and said they were more able to engage in a variety of physical activities than those who reported low conscientiousness.

For the first time, however, the researchers also found a significant, self-reported health benefit that accompanied marriage to a conscientious person, even among those who described themselves as highly conscientious.

"It appears that even if you are really highly conscientious, you can still benefit from a spouse's conscientiousness," Roberts said. "It makes sense that regardless of what your attributes are, if you have people in your social network that have resources, such as conscientiousness, that can always help."

A more unusual finding involved an added health benefit reported by women who were paired with highly conscientious men who were also highly neurotic, Roberts said. The same benefit was not seen in men with highly conscientious and neurotic female partners. While both men and women benefit from being paired with a conscientious mate, Roberts said, only the women saw a modest boost in their health from being with a man who was also neurotic.

"The effect here is not much larger than the effect of aspirin on cardiovascular health, which is a well-known small effect," he said.

Asked whether women looking for long-term mates should choose a man who is conscientious and neurotic over one who is simply conscientious, Roberts said, "I wouldn't recommend it."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "For Your Health, Pick A Mate Who Is Conscientious And, Perhaps, Also Neurotic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090428111532.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2009, May 6). For Your Health, Pick A Mate Who Is Conscientious And, Perhaps, Also Neurotic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090428111532.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "For Your Health, Pick A Mate Who Is Conscientious And, Perhaps, Also Neurotic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090428111532.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) A 111-year-old Japanese was certified as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records on Wednesday. Sakari Momoi, a native of Fukushima in northern Japan, was given a certificate at a hospital in Tokyo. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins