Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Weight gain linked with personality trait changes

Date:
May 6, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
People who gain weight are more likely to give in to temptations but also are more thoughtful about their actions, according to a new study.

People who gain weight are more likely to give in to temptations but also are more thoughtful about their actions, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

To understand how fluctuations in body weight might relate to personality changes, psychological scientist Angelina Sutin of the Florida State University College of Medicine and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) examined data from two large-scale longitudinal studies of Baltimore residents.

"We know a great deal about how personality traits contribute to weight gain," said Sutin. "What we don't know is whether significant changes in weight are associated with changes in our core personality traits. Weight can be such an emotional issue; we thought that weight gain may lead to long-term changes in psychological functioning."

The studies, NIH's Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) and the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study, included more than 1,900 people in total, of all ages and socioeconomic levels. Data about participants' personality traits and their body weight were collected at two time points separated by nearly a decade. In one study, a clinician measured participants' weight at the two time points; in the other study, the participants reported their weight at baseline and had it measured by a clinician at follow-up.

Sutin and colleagues found that participants who had at least a 10 percent increase in body weight showed an increase in impulsiveness -- with a greater tendency to give in to temptations -- compared to those whose weight was stable. The data don't reveal whether increased impulsiveness was a cause or an effect of gaining weight, but they do suggest an intimate relationship between a person's physiology and his or her psychology.

In a surprising twist, people who gained weight also reported an increase in deliberation, with a greater tendency to think through their decisions. Deliberation tends to increase for everyone in adulthood, but the increase was almost double for participants who gained weight compared to those whose weight stayed the same.

"If mind and body are intertwined, then if one changes the other should change too," Sutin said. "That's what our findings suggest."

Sutin and colleagues speculate that this increase in deliberation could be the result of negative feedback from family or friends -- people are likely to think twice about grabbing a second slice of cake if they feel that everyone is watching them take it.

These findings suggest that even though people who gain weight are more conscious of their decision-making, they may still have difficulty resisting temptations.

"The inability to control cravings may reinforce a vicious cycle that weakens the self-control muscle," the researchers note. "Yielding to temptation today may reduce the ability to resist cravings tomorrow. Thus, individuals who gain weight may have increased risk for additional weight gain through changes in their personality."

Co-authors are National Institute on Aging researchers Paul Costa, Wayne Chan, Yuri Milaneschi, Alan Zonderman, Luigi Ferrucci, and Antonio Terracciano, also at Florida State University College of Medicine; and William Eaton of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging and a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. R. Sutin, P. T. Costa, W. Chan, Y. Milaneschi, W. W. Eaton, A. B. Zonderman, L. Ferrucci, A. Terracciano. I Know Not To, but I Can't Help It: Weight Gain and Changes in Impulsivity-Related Personality Traits. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612469212

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Weight gain linked with personality trait changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130506114005.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, May 6). Weight gain linked with personality trait changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130506114005.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Weight gain linked with personality trait changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130506114005.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uganda on Alert for Ebola but No Confirmed Cases

Uganda on Alert for Ebola but No Confirmed Cases

AFP (July 31, 2014) Uganda's health minister said on Thursday that there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in the country, but that it remained on alert for cases of the deadly virus. Uganda has suffered Ebola outbreaks in the past, most recently in 2012. Duration: 00:59 Video provided by AFP
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