Investigating associations between personality and the efficacy of interventions for cognitive ageing: A systematic review

Calum Marr, Eleftheria Vaportzis, T. Michaela Dewar, Alan J. Gow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
92 Downloads (Pure)


The personal and societal impact of age-related cognitive decline supports the development of effective interventions. While some strategies, such as cognitive training, exercise or socio-intellectual engagement appear beneficial, few studies have examined the association between personality and intervention efficacy. A systematic review was therefore conducted to summarise and synthesise the literature regarding the influence of personality traits on the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for cognitive ageing. A systematic search of PubMed, PsycINFO and Web of Science was carried out. Of the 2100 papers identified by the search strategy, 10 studies were retained that met the relevant criteria (e.g., intervention studies with one or more cognitive outcomes and a measure of personality). Of these, two studies reported that higher levels of Openness to Experience were associated with greater improvement in memory performance after cognitive training interventions. Another found a positive association between Openness and improvement in divergent thinking following a novel group-based problem solving programme. One social intervention study reported positive moderating effects of Conscientiousness and Agreeableness, and mixed effects of Extraversion. Mixed evidence was also found regarding Need for Cognition, with one study reporting a positive association with memory improvement and another reporting less improvement in divergent thinking. Others found no evidence of personality influencing intervention outcomes. Due to the relatively small and heterogeneous sample of studies identified, any conclusions should currently be considered preliminary. These findings highlight the need for further research exploring the role of personality in intervention efficacy, so that interventions might be better tailored to individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103992
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Early online date2 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Cognitive ageing
  • Interventions
  • Personality
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Ageing
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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