Perceived social support predicts increased conscientiousness during older adulthood

Patrick L. Hill, Brennan R. Payne, Joshua J. Jackson, Elizabeth A.L. Stine-Morrow, Brent W. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. This study examined whether perceived social support predicted adaptive personality change in older adulthood, focusing on the trait of conscientiousness. We tested this hypothesis both at the broad domain level and with respect to the specific lower order facets that comprise conscientiousness: order, self-control, industriousness, responsibility, and traditionalism. Methods. A sample of 143 older adults (aged 60-91) completed measures of conscientiousness and social support during 2 assessments 7 months apart. Results. Social support and conscientiousness were positively correlated among older adults. Moreover, older adults who perceived greater social support at baseline were more likely to gain in conscientiousness over time. The magnitude of this effect was relatively similar across the order, self-control, and industriousness facets. Discussion. Perceived social support provides multiple benefits later in life, and the current results add to this literature by showing that it also promotes conscientiousness. As conscientiousness is linked to a variety of positive outcomes later in life, including health, future research should examine whether conscientiousness change may be an important mechanism through which social support enhances resilience in older adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-547
Number of pages5
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Conscientiousness
  • Older adulthood
  • Personality development
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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