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Your Personality and Trait Responses

To determine whether aspects of your personality could affect how you respond when stressful events come your way, we share assessments of stress response style, hostility, conscientiousness, and purpose in life. Many of the personality assessments shared here are ones Dr. Epel created that are similar to the non-public original versions. The Telomere Effect book has more original research assessments than shared here, such as rumination, and optimism/pessimism (because many research scales are not for use on a website).

Whatever you learn about your personality, celebrate it. Personality is the spice of life, and knowledge about it is power. There is no right or wrong way to be. The point is to know yourself and be aware of your tendencies, not to change your personality. In fact, personality cannot change easily. It tends to be stable. Both genetics and life experiences have shaped our temperament. 

Learn More about your Personality 

Some personality traits are associated with bigger stress responses. Determine whether aspects of your personality may affect how you respond when stressful events come your way.

Take these brief questionnaires to learn more about your own: 



  • Eckhardt, Christopher, Bradley Norlander, and Jerry Deffenbacher. “The Assessment of Anger and Hostility: A Critical Review.” Aggression and Violent Behavior 9, no. 1 (January 2004): 17–43. doi:10.1016/S1359-1789(02)00116-7.

  • Brydon, L., et al., “Hostility and Cellular Aging in Men from the Whitehall II Cohort,” Biological Psychiatry 71, no. 9 (May 2012): 767–773, doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.08.020.


  • John, O. P., E.M. Donahue, and R. L. Kentle, R. L., The Big Five Inventory—Versions 4a and 54 (Berkeley: University of California, Berke- ley, Institute of Personality and Social Research, 1991). We thank Dr. Oliver John of UC Berkeley for permission to use this scale. John, O. P., and S. Srivastava, “The Big-Five Trait Taxonomy: History, Measurement, and Theoretical Perspectives,” in Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, ed. L. A. Pervin and O. P. John, 2nd ed. (New York: Guil- ford Press, 1999): 102–138.

  • Sadahiro, R., et al., “Relationship Between Leukocyte Telomere Length and Personality Traits in Healthy Subjects,” European Psychiatry 30, no. 2 (February 2015): 291–295, doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2014.03.003, pmid: 24768472. 

  • Srivastava, S., et al., “Development of Personality in Early and Middle Adulthood: Set Like Plaster or Persistent Change?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84, no. 5 (May 2003): 1041–1053, doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.5.1041.

Purpose in Life

  • Scheier, M. F., et al., “The Life Engagement Test: Assessing Purpose in Life,” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 29, no. 3 (June 2006): 291–298, doi:10.1007/s10865-005-9044-1.

  • Pearson, E. L., et al., “Normative Data and Longitudinal Invariance of the Life Engagement Test (LET) in a Community Sample of Older Adults,” Quality of Life Research 22, no. 2 (March 2013): 327–331, doi:10.1007/s11136-012-0146-2.

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