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Increasing Conscientiousness to Improve Health Behaviors: Findings From a Self-Regulation Intervention

  • Author(s): Della Porta, Serenity Sarah
  • Advisor(s): Friedman, Howard S
  • et al.

Primary disease prevention requires complex health interventions that influence multiple behaviors simultaneously. Research finds conscientiousness consistently associated with better health behaviors, improved health, and longevity (Friedman & Martin, 2011). A 6-week experimental longitudinal study tested whether a self-regulation training intervention would boost conscientiousness. Changes in broad trait conscientiousness and five underlying facets (perseverance, self-control, orderliness, self-efficacy, and responsibility) were examined. As predicted, the treatment group showed a trend for increasing perseverance compared to the control group, though no differences were found in the other facets nor broad trait conscientiousness. Changes in health behavior revealed that treatment participants also improved in sleep quality relative to control participants. Self-regulation training should be further explored as a viable means for increasing perseverance and improving physical health. Other methods for increasing conscientiousness should also be considered as a prime means for enhancing health interventions.

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