: Previous studies investigating the association between body weight and personality traits have found mixed results. This paper uses a large data set and two different study designs (cross-sectional and longitudinal) to provide more consistent estimates of the effect of personality traits on obesity. Methods
: The present study is based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) from the waves 2005 to 2013; GSOEP is a longitudinal survey of private households in Germany that has been carried out since 1984. Responses provided data about personality, measured using the BFI-S Questionnaire, data for self-rated body mass index BMI (to determine the obesity level), as well as information for potential confounders. Cross-sectional and longitudinal logistic regression models were used. Results
: The cross-sectional study yielded statistically significant results for the association between the outcome variable and four personality factors neuroticism, extraversion, openness and agreeableness. After controlling for several potential confounders, the association between obesity and extraversion, openness as well as agreeableness remained; additionally, the personality factor consciousness reached statistical significance. In the longitudinal study, a statistically significant association was found only for two personality factors, namely extraversion and agreeableness. After adding the control variables, the FE-regression yielded an association only for agreeableness (negative). Gender differences were not significant. Discussion
: The findings show that results of a cross-sectional study design differ from the outcome of the longitudinal study design. The latter stresses the association between excess weight and the personality factor agreeableness, contrasting with most outcomes of previous research.
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