ObjectivesDispersion in cognitive test performance within a single testing session is proposed as an early marker of poor brain health. Existing research, however, has not investigated factors that may explain individual differences in cognitive dispersion. We investigate the extent to which the Big Five personality traits are associated with cognitive dispersion in older adulthood.
MethodTo promote transparency and reliability, we applied preregistration and conceptual replication via coordinated analysis. Drawing data from seven longitudinal studies of aging (Ntotal = 33,581; Mage range = 56.4-71.2), cognitive dispersion scores were derived from cognitive test results. Independent linear regression models were fit in each study to examine personality traits as predictors of dispersion scores, adjusting for mean cognitive performance and sociodemographics (age, sex, education). Results from individual studies were synthesized using random effects meta-analyses.
ResultsSynthesized results revealed that openness was positively associated with cognitive dispersion, 0.028, 95% CI [0.003, 0.054]. There was minimal evidence for associations between cognitive dispersion and the other personality traits in independent analyses or meta-analyses. Mean cognitive scores were negatively associated with cognitive dispersion across the majority of studies, while sociodemographic variables were not consistently associated with cognitive dispersion.
ConclusionHigher levels of openness were associated with greater cognitive dispersion across seven independent samples, indicating that individuals higher in openness had more dispersion across cognitive tests. Further research is needed to investigate mechanisms that may help to explain the link between openness and cognitive dispersion, as well as to identify additional individual factors, beyond personality traits, that may be associated with cognitive dispersion. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).