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Objectives: Early-life disadvantage (ELD) relates to lower late-life cognition. However, personality factors, including having an internal locus of control (LOC) or a conscientious personality, relate to resilience and effective stress coping. We explore whether personality factors convey resilience against the negative effects of ELD on cognition, by gender, in Mexico.

Methods: Using the 2015 Mexican Health and Aging Study, we estimated expected cognition using multiple ELD markers to identify a subsample in the lowest quartile of expected cognition given ELD (n = 2,086). In this subsample, we estimated cross-sectional associations between personality and having above-median observed cognitive ability (n = 522) using logistic regression.

Results: Among those in the lowest quartile of expected cognition, a more internal LOC (β = 0.32 [men] and β = 0.44 [women]) and conscientious personality (β = 0.39 [men] and β = 0.17 [women]) were significantly associated with having above-median cognitive ability in models adjusted for demographic confounders. Larger benefits of conscientiousness were observed for men than women. Associations between personality and having above-median cognitive ability remained statistically significant after further adjustment for health, stress, and cognitive stimulation variables, regardless of gender.

Discussion: Personality factors may convey resilience among individuals who experienced ELD, potentially breaking the link between ELD and worse late-life cognition. Structural factors and gender roles may affect how much women benefit from personality factors.


© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Publication Title

The Journals of Gerontology: Series B



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Mentor/PI Department




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