Personality and depressive symptoms: individual participant meta-analysis of 10 cohorts

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

July 15, 2015


Background: Personality is suggested to be a major risk factor for depression but large-scale individual participant meta-analyses on this topic are lacking.
Method: Data from 10 prospective community cohort studies with 117,899 participants (mean age 49.0 years; 54.7% women) were pooled for individual participant meta-analysis to determine the association between personality traits of the five-factor model and risk of depressive symptoms.
Results: In cross-sectional analysis, low extraversion (pooled standardized regression coefficient (B) = –.08; 95% confidence interval = –0.11, –0.04), high neuroticism (B = .39; 0.32, 0.45), and low conscientiousness (B = –.09; –0.10, –0.06) were associated with depressive symptoms. Similar associations were observed in longitudinal analyses adjusted for baseline depressive symptoms (n = 56,735; mean follow-up of 5.0 years): low extraversion (B = –.03; –0.05, –0.01), high neuroticism (B = .12; 0.10, 0.13), and low conscientiousness (B = –.04; –0.06, –0.02) were associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms at follow-up. In turn, depressive symptoms were associated with personality change in extraversion (B = –.07; 95% CI = –0.12, –0.02), neuroticism (B = .23; 0.09, 0.36), agreeableness (B = –.09; –0.15, –0.04), conscientiousness (B = –.14; –0.21, –0.07), and openness to experience (B = –.04; –0.08, 0.00).
Conclusions: Personality traits are prospectively associated with the development of depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms, in turn, are associated with changes in personality that may be temporary or persistent.

Published in

Depression and Anxiety

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 32 , p.461 -470







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