Smoking cigarettes linked to negative personality changes

Summary: Using the Big Five model of personality traits, researchers found smokers were more likely to experience an increase in neuroticism over time. Quitting smoking did not have an impact on altering the negative personality traits.

Source: Neuroscience News

A recent study from researchers in the US and France found smoking cigarettes is associated with negative personality changes across adulthood.

Results were drawn from five longitudinal cohort studies, with participants ranging in age from 20 to 92 years old. Follow up investigations were performed on the subjects 4 to 20 years after the initial interviews.

Using the Big Five model, researchers found smokers had negative personality changes over time.

When compared with non-smokers, current tobacco users were more likely to exhibit an increase in neuroticism. Smokers also displayed declines in extroversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Those who quit smoking showed steeper declines in agreeableness. They reported feeling less optimistic and disclosed a decrease in the ability to be cooperative or considerate of the needs of others.

This shows a man and a mask
Smokers also displayed declines in extroversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. The image is in the public domain.

Researchers concluded smoking cessation did not help improve detrimental personality changes acquired during tobacco use.

About this neuroscience research article

Neuroscience News
Media Contacts:
Victoria Driscoll – Neuroscience News
Image Source:
The image is in the public domain.

Original Research: Closed access
“Cigarette smoking and personality change across adulthood: Findings from five longitudinal samples”. Yannick Stephan, Angelina R. Sutin, Martina Luchetti, Pauline Caille, Antonio Terracciano.
Journal of Research in Personality. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2019.06.006


Cigarette smoking and personality change across adulthood: Findings from five longitudinal samples

Personality traits are related to cigarette smoking. However, little is known about the link between smoking and change in personality. Therefore, the present study examined whether current cigarette smoking and smoking cessation are associated with personality change across adulthood. Participants (n = 15,572) aged from 20 to 92 years were drawn from five longitudinal cohorts with follow-ups that ranged from 4 to 20 years. Compared to non-smokers, current smokers were more likely to increase on neuroticism and to decline on extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness over time. Compared to the persistent smokers, those who quit had a steeper decline in agreeableness. Cigarette smoking is related to detrimental personality changes across adulthood, and the pattern was not improved by smoking cessation.

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