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Personality correlates of physical activity: a review and meta-analysis

Abstract

This review aimed to combine the literature on major personality traits and physical activity alongside providing some meta-analytic summaries of the findings. Overall, 33 studies containing 35 independent samples, ranging from 1969 to 2006, met the inclusion criteria. Extraversion (r = 0.23), neuroticism (r = −0.11) and conscientiousness (r = 0.20) were identified as correlates of physical activity using random effects meta-analytic procedures correcting for sampling bias and attenuation of measurement error. The five-factor model traits of openness to experience/intellect and agreeableness, as well as Eysenck’s psychoticism trait, were not associated with physical activity. Potential moderators of personality and physical activity relationships such as sex, age, culture/country, design and instrumentation were inconclusive given the small number of studies. Still, the existing evidence was suggestive that personality and physical activity relationships are relatively invariant to these factors. Studies examining personality and different physical activity modes suggested differences by traits such as extraversion, but more research is needed to make any conclusions. Future research using multivariate analyses, personality-channelled physical activity interventions, longitudinal designs and objective physical activity measurement is recommended.

  • EPI, Eysenck personality inventory
  • NEO-FFI, Neo-five factor inventory
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