Twin Research and Human Genetics

Articles

Personality, Health and Lifestyle in a Questionnaire Family Study: A Comparison Between Highly Cooperative and Less Cooperative Families

Marijn A. Distela1 c1, Lannie Ligtharta2, Gonneke Willemsena3, Dale R. Nyholta4, Timothy J. Trulla5 and Dorret I. Boomsmaa6

a1 Department of Biological Psychology, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. ma.distel@psy.vu.nl

a2 Department of Biological Psychology, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

a3 Department of Biological Psychology, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

a4 Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

a5 Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, United States of America.

a6 Department of Biological Psychology, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Abstract

The effect of nonresponse on health and lifestyle measures has received extensive study, showing at most relatively modest effects. Nonresponse bias with respect to personality has been less thoroughly investigated. The present study uses data from responding individuals as a proxy for the missing data of their nonresponding family members to examine the presence of nonresponse bias for personality traits and disorders as well as health and lifestyle traits. We looked at the Big Five personality traits, borderline personality disorder (BPD) features, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Anger, and several measures of health (Body Mass Index, migraine) and lifestyle (smoking, alcohol use). In general, outcomes tend to be slightly more favorable for individuals from highly cooperative families compared to individuals from less cooperative families. The only significant difference was found for BPD features (p = .001). However, the absolute difference in mean scores is very small, less than 1 point for a scale ranging from 0 to 72. In conclusion, survey data on personality, health and lifestyle are relatively unbiased with respect to nonresponse.

(Received January 29 2007)

(Accepted February 01 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Marijn A. Distel, VU University, Department of Biological Psychology, van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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