Conscientiousness is associated with longevity. As such, identifying the biological pathways linking personality to mortality is important. This study employs longitudinal data spanning >40 years to test prospective associations with leukocyte telomere length (LTL), a potential marker of cellular ageing. Because telomeres shorten over time, and are sensitive to oxidative stress, shorter LTL may reflect cumulative damage associated with negative health behaviours and past stressful events. We investigated childhood conscientiousness as a protective factor, expecting an association with longer LTL in adulthood, possibly reflecting slower LTL shortening. Potential lifespan pathways involving childhood trauma, smoking behaviours, and body mass index (BMI) were explored. Childhood conscientiousness showed a small raw association with LTL (r = .08, p = .04), although this effect did not persist when controlling for age and sex. Despite this lack of a direct effect on LTL, we detected an indirect effect operating jointly through BMI and smoking. Higher rates of childhood betrayal trauma were associated with shorter LTL. Contrary to our hypothesis that conscientiousness would buffer this effect, we found evidence for an interaction with childhood betrayal traumas where the association between childhood betrayal traumas and LTL was larger for those higher on conscientiousness in childhood. Copyright © 2016 European Association of Personality Psychology

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Keywords brief betrayal-trauma survey, childhood conscientiousness, childhood traumatic experiences, leukocyte telomere length, personality health hypothesis, personality-health mechanisms
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Journal European Journal of Personality
Edmonds, G.W. (Grant W.), Hampson, S.E. (Sarah E.), Côté, H.C.F. (Hélène C. F.), Hill, P.L, & Klest, B. (Bridget). (2016). Childhood Personality, Betrayal Trauma, and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Adulthood: A Lifespan Perspective on Conscientiousness and Betrayal Traumas as Predictors of a Biomarker of Cellular Ageing. In European Journal of Personality (Vol. 30, pp. 426–437). doi:10.1002/per.2051