Activity Engagement and Activity-Related Experiences: The Role of Personality

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Activity engagement, Day reconstruction measure, Extraversion and conscientiousness, Health and Retirement Study, Older adults

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Objectives: The associations of personality with activity participation and well-being have been well studied. However, less is known concerning the relationship between personality and specific aspects of activity engagement in older adults. We conducted a fine-grained examination of the effects of extraversion and conscientiousness on reported activity engagement—which we define as participation, time allocated, and affective experience—during 8 everyday activities.

Method: Data were obtained using a day reconstruction measure from a subgroup of participants in the 2012 Health and Retirement Study (HRS: N = 5,484; mean age = 67.98 years).

Results: We found mixed support for hypotheses suggesting that specific personality traits would be associated with activity participation, time allocated, and activity-affective experience. For example, extraverts were more likely to socialize and experienced higher socializing-related positive affect, but did not spend more time socializing.

Discussion: Results are discussed in light of the value of including personality in, and its contribution to, studies of activity engagement in later life. In addition, the need to acknowledge the complexity of the concept of activity engagement in future research is highlighted.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, v. 73, issue 8, p. 1480-1490