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Personality and perceptions of aging linked to depression

October 11, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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Improving self-perceptions may reduce signs of depression in older adults, a recent study found.

Personality traits can predict depressive symptoms later in life. Researchers reviewed whether modifiable individual differences in attitudes would influence those perceptions.

“Our results provide support for interventions aimed at improving self-perceptions related to efficacy and aging in order to reduce depressive symptoms in older adults,” wrote the authors, in a study published online in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Researchers reviewed data from 3,507 older adults who participated in the 2012 Health and Retirement Study and assessed the “Big Five” personality traits along with self-efficacy, aging perceptions depressive symptoms.

They found:

  • All five personality traits were significant predictors of depressive symptoms.
  • Neuroticism was positively associated with depressive symptoms and had the greatest effect compared with the other personality traits.
  • There was a significant indirect effect of neuroticism, extraversion and conscientiousness on depressive symptoms (including both mediators).
  • The mediating effect of aging perceptions on the relationship between neuroticism and depressive symptoms was the strongest compared with self-efficacy, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the total indirect effect.


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