Openness to experience is related to better memory ability in older adults with questionable dementia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology








Dementia; Five factor model; Memory; Mild cognitive impairment; Neuropsychology; Neuroticism; Openness; Personality


The personality traits Openness to experience and Neuroticism of the five-factor model have previously been associated with memory performance in nondemented older adults, but this relationship has not been investigated in samples with memory impairment. Our examination of 50 community-dwelling older adults (29 cognitively intact; 21 with questionable dementia as determined by the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale) showed that demographic variables (age, years of education, gender, and estimated premorbid IQ) and current depressive symptoms explained a significant amount of variance of Repeatable Battery of Neuropsychological Status Delayed Memory (adjusted R 2 = 0.23). After controlling for these variables, a measure of global cognitive status further explained a significant portion of variance in memory performance (ΔR 2 = 0.13; adjusted R 2 = 0.36; p <.01). Finally, adding Openness to this hierarchical linear regression model explained a significant additional portion of variance (ΔR2 = 0.08; adjusted R 2 = 0.44; p <.01) but adding Neuroticism did not explain any additional variance. This significant relationship between Openness and better memory performance above and beyond one's cognitive status and demographic variables may suggest that a lifelong pattern of involvement in new cognitive activities could be preserved in old age or protect from memory decline. This study suggests that personality may be a powerful predictor of memory ability and clinically useful in this heterogeneous population. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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