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Weight gain linked with personality trait changes
Date:5/6/2013

People who gain weight are more likely to give in to temptations but also are more thoughtful about their actions, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

To understand how fluctuations in body weight might relate to personality changes, psychological scientist Angelina Sutin of the Florida State University College of Medicine and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) examined data from two large-scale longitudinal studies of Baltimore residents.

"We know a great deal about how personality traits contribute to weight gain," said Sutin. "What we don't know is whether significant changes in weight are associated with changes in our core personality traits. Weight can be such an emotional issue; we thought that weight gain may lead to long-term changes in psychological functioning."

The studies, NIH's Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) and the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study, included more than 1,900 people in total, of all ages and socioeconomic levels. Data about participants' personality traits and their body weight were collected at two time points separated by nearly a decade. In one study, a clinician measured participants' weight at the two time points; in the other study, the participants reported their weight at baseline and had it measured by a clinician at follow-up.

Sutin and colleagues found that participants who had at least a 10 percent increase in body weight showed an increase in impulsiveness with a greater tendency to give in to temptations compared to those whose weight was stable. The data don't reveal whether increased impulsiveness was a cause or an effect of gaining weight, but they do suggest an intimate relationship between a person's physiology and his or her psychology.

In a surprising twist, people who gained weight also reported an increase in deliberation, wi
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Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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