Personality traits and circadian blood pressure patterns: A 7-year prospective study

Antonio Terracciano, James Strait, Angelo Scuteri, Osorio Meirelles, Angelina R. Sutin, Kirill Tarasov, Jun Ding, Michele Marongiu, Marco Orru, Maria Grazia Pilia, Francesco Cucca, Edward Lakatta, David Schlessinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: A nighttime dip in blood pressure is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We examined whether personality traits predict nighttime dipping blood pressure. METHODS: A community-based sample of 2848 adults from Sardinia (Italy) completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory and 7 years later were examined with 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. The primary analyses examined the associations of personality traits with continuous and categorical measures of mean arterial, systolic, and diastolic blood pressure nighttime dipping. RESULTS: Agreeableness and conscientiousness were associated with more nocturnal blood pressure dipping (β = .05 [p = .025] and β = .07 [p < .001], respectively) and lower systolic blood pressure at night (β = -.05 [p = .018] and β = -.03 [p = .072], respectively). Nondippers were particularly more impulsive (p = .009), less trusting (p = .004), and less self-disciplined (p = .001), but there was no significant association between nocturnal dipping blood pressure and trait anxiety (p = .78) or depression (p = .59). The associations were stronger when comparing extreme dippers (nighttime drop = 20%) to reverse dippers (nighttime increase in blood pressure). Indeed, scoring 1 standard deviation higher on conscientiousness was associated with approximately 40% reduced risk of reverse dipping (odds ratio = 1.43, confidence interval = 1.08-1.91). CONCLUSIONS: We found evidence that reduced nighttime blood pressure dipping is associated with antagonism and impulsivity-related traits but not with measures of emotional vulnerability. The strongest associations were found with conscientiousness, a trait that may have a broad impact on cardiovascular health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
  • Cardiovascular
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Conscientiousness
  • Dipping
  • Impulsivity
  • Personality
  • Systolic blood pressure
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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