Objectives: Social contact has been shown to be positively associated with cognitive functioning. It is unclear, however, whether all individuals can equally benefit from social contact with regard to their cognitive functioning. The goal of this study was to examine whether the beneficial effects of social contact are affected by individual differences in personality. Method: We examined the Big Five personality traits as moderators of the associations between social contact and episodic memory and executive functioning using the second wave of the Midlife in the U.S. study (N = 3,524, M(age) = 55.8). Results: High levels of Extraversion and low levels of Openness to Experience strengthened the association between social contact and memory and executive functioning. High levels of Neuroticism and Agreeableness weakened the association of social contact with memory but not with executive functioning. The results are consistent across adulthood. Discussion: Personality modifies the social contact-cognition association. Whereas extraverts may need social contact for cognitive stimulation, those who are high on Openness gain their stimulations elsewhere. The highly neurotic might experience contact as stressful and hence as less beneficial. Emotional rather than cognitive motivation might be the reason that the highly agreeable benefit less from social contact with regard to their cognitive functioning.
|Number of pages
|Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
|Published - 2018
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.
- Cognitive functioning
- Social contact
- The big five
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Life-span and Life-course Studies
- Sociology and Political Science