Personality Traits and Subjective Memory Complaints: Does Executive Function Have an Explanatory Role?
University of Kansas
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Subjective memory complaints (SMC) are common among healthy older adults and are associated with negative affect, the Big Five Personality traits, and objective memory decline. Research from geriatric psychiatry, cognitive aging, and personality neuroscience converge on age-related changes in executive function as a third variable that explains the relationship among the same constructs. The present study used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) to test whether executive functioning explains the relationship between SMC and the Big Five. A multiple regression model found that the Big Five were not significant predictors of SMC while controlling for executive function (EF). The single criterion EF model found that executive completely accounted for the shared variance between retrospective memory complaints (RMC) and prospective memory complaints (PMC) and each of the Big Five Factors. Lastly, mediation analyses of the effect of executive function on the relationship between each of the Big Five factors and RMC and PMC found that executive function fully mediated the relationship of all of the Big Five and RMC except for openness. Taken together, the models suggest that executive function has a common causal relationship between the Big Five and SMC. The paper concludes with a discussion of methodological topics including multicollinearity and monomethod covariance inflation that threaten the validity of the current study’s findings.
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