Open Access Open Badges Research article

Personality in women and associations with mortality: a 40-year follow-up in the Population Study of Women in Gothenburg

Malin André12*, Eva Billstedt4, Calle Bengtsson1, Tore Hällström4, Lauren Lissner3, Ingmar Skoog4, Valter Sundh13, Margda Waern4 and Cecilia Björkelund1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Primary Health Care, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Box 454, S-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

2 Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linkoping, Sweden

3 Public Health Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

4 Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, Section of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Unit for Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

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BMC Women's Health 2014, 14:61  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-14-61

Published: 30 April 2014



The question of whether personality traits influence health has long been a focus for research and discussion. Therefore, this study was undertaken to examine possible associations between personality traits and mortality in women.


A population-based sample of women aged 38, 46, 50 and 54 years at initial examination in 1968–69 was followed over the course of 40 years. At baseline, 589 women completed the Cesarec-Marke Personality Schedule (the Swedish version of the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule) and the Eysenck Personality Inventory. Associations between personality traits and mortality were tested using Cox proportional hazards models.


No linear associations between personality traits or factor indices and mortality were found. When comparing the lowest (Q1) and highest quartile (Q4) against the two middle quartiles (Q2 + Q3), the personality trait Succorance Q1 versus Q2 + Q3 showed hazard ratio (HR) = 1.37 (confidence interval (CI) = 1.08-1.74), and for the factor index Aggressive non-conformance, both the lowest and highest quartiles had a significantly higher risk of death compared to Q2 + Q3: for Q1 HR = 1.32 (CI = 1.03-1.68) and for Q4 HR = 1.36 (CI = 1.06-1.77). Neither Neuroticism nor Extraversion predicted total mortality.


Personality traits did not influence long term mortality in this population sample of women followed for 40 years from mid- to late life. One explanation may be that personality in women becomes more circumscribed due to the social constraints generated by the role of women in society.

Personality traits; Secular trends; Population-based cohort; Women; Longevity