Comparing phenotypic, genetic, and environmental associations between personality and loneliness

Colin Freilich, Frank D Mann, Susan C. South, Robert F. Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As a strong risk factor for mortality, individual differences in loneliness are of clear public health significance. Four of the Big Five traits have emerged as cross-sectional correlates, but the etiology of these links is unclear, as are relations with more specific personality facets. Thus, we estimated phenotypic, genetic, and environmental associations between loneliness and both broader and narrower personality dimensions. Traits that indexed Negative Emotionality (e.g., Neuroticism, Stress Reactivity, Alienation) and low Positive Emotionality (e.g., low Extraversion, low Well-Being) had the strongest associations with loneliness, though low Conscientiousness, low Agreeableness, and high Aggression were also implicated. These associations were explained by both genetic (0.30 < |rg| < 0.80) and unique environmental (0.10 < |re| < 0.35) influences, consistent with an etiology of loneliness involving several personality domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104314
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Volume101
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We have no known conflict of interest to disclose. Since 1995 the MIDUS study has been funded by the following: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network; National Institute on Aging (P01-AG020166); National Institute on Aging (U19-AG051426). R.F. Krueger is partly supported by the US National Institutes of Health, NIH (R01-AG053217, U19-AG051426). F.D.M. is supported by the US National Institutes of Health (L60AG074424) and the National Institute on Aging (R21AG074705). Data from the MIDUS study is available to the public through the Colectica portal at: https://midus.colectica.org/ . Code is available at: https://osf.io/h5c7r/ . This study was not preregistered. Colin Freilich was responsible for data analysis and initial report writing. Frank Mann was responsible for methodological conceptualization, analysis planning, and manuscript revision and editing. Susan South was responsible for discussion conceptualization, and manuscript revision and editing. Robert Krueger was responsible for supervision, project administration, and manuscript revision and editing. Correspondence concerning this article can be sent to Colin Freilich at freil016@umn.edu .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • ACE model
  • Big Five
  • Environmental correlation
  • Genetic correlation
  • Loneliness
  • MPQ
  • Personality

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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