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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 973121, 9 pages
Research Article

Do Depressive Traits and Hostility Predict Age-Related Decline in General Intelligence?

1Department of Public Health, Section of Environmental Health, Medical Psychology Unit, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5 A, 1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark
2Center for Healthy Aging, Faculty of Health Science, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark
3Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, 1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark
4Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA
5Department of Public Health, Section of Social Medicine, University of Copenhagen, 1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark
6Danish Aging Research Center, Universities of Aarhus, Copenhagen and Southern Denmark, Denmark

Received 15 March 2012; Revised 2 June 2012; Accepted 10 June 2012

Academic Editor: Denis Gerstorf

Copyright © 2012 Erik Lykke Mortensen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Certain personality traits are likely to be associated with stress and distress through the lifespan, and as a consequence these traits may influence the rate of age-related cognitive decline. The present study uses data from the Glostrup 1914 cohort to analyze potential effects of personality on decline in general intelligence over a 30-year period. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was administered at a 50-year baseline exam, and from this inventory the Obvious Depression Scale and an abbreviated version of the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale were derived. At the 50-year baseline and at the 60-, 70-, and 80-year followups the full version of Wechsler's Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) was administered to 673, 513, 136, and 184 participants. Mixed effects statistical models were used to evaluate both the effect of the personality scores on level of intelligence and the interaction between the personality scores and the time since followup. Analyses were adjusted for demographic background and a wide range of lifestyle factors. Both obvious depression and hostility were negatively associated with level of intelligence, but personality scores did not influence rate of decline in general intelligence.