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Individual-Level Analyses of the Impact of Parasite Stress on Personality: Reduced Openness Only for Older Individuals.

Authors
  • Mullett, Timothy L1, 2
  • Brown, Gordon D A1
  • Fincher, Corey L1
  • Kosinski, Michal3
  • Stillwell, David4
  • 1 Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
  • 2 University of Bath, UK.
  • 3 Stanford Graduate School of Business, CA, USA.
  • 4 University of Cambridge, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Personality & social psychology bulletin
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
Volume
46
Issue
1
Pages
79–93
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/0146167219843918
PMID: 31046588
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The parasite stress hypothesis predicts that individuals living in regions with higher infectious disease rates will show lower openness, agreeableness, and extraversion, but higher conscientiousness. This article, using data from more than 250,000 U.S. Facebook users, reports tests of these predictions at the level of both U.S. states and individuals and evaluates criticisms of previous findings. State-level results for agreeableness and conscientiousness are consistent with previously reported cross-national findings, but others (a significant positive correlation with extraversion and no correlation with openness) are not. However, effects of parasite stress on conscientiousness and agreeableness are not found when analyses account for the data's hierarchical structure and include controls. We find that only openness is robustly related to parasite stress in these analyses, and we also find a significant interaction with age: Older, but not younger, inhabitants of areas of high parasite stress show lower openness. Interpretations of the findings are discussed.

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