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Personality Traits of the Five-Factor Model Are Associated With Effort–Reward Imbalance at Work: A Population-Based Study

Törnroos, Maria MSc; Hintsanen, Mirka PhD; Hintsa, Taina PhD; Jokela, Markus PhD; Pulkki-Råback, Laura PhD; Kivimäki, Mika PhD; Hutri-Kähönen, Nina MD, PhD; Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa PhD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: July 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 7 - p 875–880
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31824fe0e4
Original Articles

Objective: This study examined the association between personality traits and work stress.

Methods: The sample comprised 757 women and 613 men (aged 30 to 45 years in 2007) participating in the Young Finns study. Personality was assessed with the NEO-FFI questionnaire and work stress according to Siegrist's effort–reward imbalance (ERI) model.

Results: High neuroticism, low extraversion, and low agreeableness were associated with high ERI. Low conscientiousness was associated with high ERI in men. No association was found between openness and ERI. High neuroticism, high extraversion, and low agreeableness were associated with high effort and low neuroticism, high extraversion, and high agreeableness with high rewards. High conscientiousness was associated with high effort, and in women, with high rewards. High openness was associated with high effort.

Conclusions: This study suggests that personality traits may predispose to and protect from work stress.

From the IBS (Ms Törnroos and Drs Hintsanen, Hintsa, Jokela, Råback, Kivimäki, and Keltikangas-Järvinen), Unit of Personality, Work and Health Psychology, and Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Dr Hintsanen), University of Helsinki; Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (Dr Råback), Work and Mental Health Unit, Helsinki; and Department of Pediatrics (Dr Hutri-Kähönen), University of Tampere and Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.

Address correspondence to: Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, PhD, IBS, Unit of Personality, Work and Health Psychology, University of Helsinki, PO Box 9, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland (liisa.keltikangas-jarvinen@helsinki.fi).

This study was supported by the Academy of Finland (project no. 123621: Dr Pulkki-Råback), Emil Aaltonen Foundation (Dr Hintsanen), Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research (Dr Hintsanen), Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation (Dr Hintsanen), Research Funds of the University of Helsinki (Dr Hintsanen), and Tampere University Hospital Medical fund (Dr Hutri-Kähönen).

The funding sources had no involvement in the study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data, in the writing of the report or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine