The Effect of Personality Traits on Risk of Incident Pre-dementia Syndromes

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OBJECTIVES: Personality traits have been shown to be associated with the risk of dementia; less is known about their association with pre-dementia syndromes. The aim of the present study was to examine the role of personality traits as predictors of incident pre-dementia, motoric cognitive risk (MCR), and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) syndromes. DESIGN: We prospectively examined the association between five personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness) and the risk of incident MCR or MCI. MCR builds on MCI operational definitions, substituting the cognitive impairment criterion with slow gait, and it is associated with increased risk for both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. SETTING: Community based. PARTICIPANTS: Nondemented participants (n = 524; 62% women) aged 65 years and older. MEASUREMENTS: Cox proportional hazard analysis, adjusted for demographics and disease burden, was used to evaluate the risk of each pre-dementia syndrome based on baseline personality traits, measured using the Big Five Inventory. RESULTS: Over a median follow-up of 3 years, 38 participants developed incident MCR, and 69 developed incident MCI (41 non-amnestic and 28 amnestic subtypes). Openness was associated with a reduced risk of developing incident MCR (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] =.94; 95% confidence interval [CI] =.89-.99), whereas neuroticism was associated with an increased risk of incident non-amnestic MCI (aHR = 1.06; 95% CI = 1.01-1.11). These associations remained significant even after considering the confounding effects of lifestyle or mood. None of the personality traits were associated with MCI overall or amnestic MCI. CONCLUSION: These findings provide evidence of a distinct relationship between personality traits and development of specific pre-dementia syndromes. J Am Geriatr Soc 68:1554-1559, 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1554-1559
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • cognitive outcomes
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • motoric cognitive risk syndrome
  • personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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