Impulsivity-related traits are associated with higher white blood cell counts

Angelina R. Sutin, Yuri Milaneschi, Alessandra Cannas, Luigi Ferrucci, Manuela Uda, David Schlessinger, Alan B. Zonderman, Antonio Terracciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


A chronically elevated white blood cell (WBC) count is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality. The present research tests whether facets of impulsivity - impulsiveness, excitement-seeking, self-discipline, and deliberation - are associated with chronically elevated WBC counts. Community-dwelling participants (N = 5,652) from Sardinia, Italy, completed a standard personality questionnaire and provided blood samples concurrently and again 3 years later. Higher scores on impulsivity, in particular impulsiveness and excitementseeking, were related to higher total WBC counts and higher lymphocyte counts at both time points. Impulsiveness was a predictor of chronic inflammation: for every standard deviation difference in this trait, there was an almost 25% higher risk of elevated WBC counts at both time points (OR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.10-1.38). These associations were mediated, in part, by smoking and body mass index. The findings demonstrate that links between psychological processes and immunity are not limited to acute stressors; stable personality dispositions are associated with a chronic inflammatory state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-623
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Conscientiousness
  • Impulsivity
  • Inflammation
  • Neuroticism
  • Personality
  • White blood cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Impulsivity-related traits are associated with higher white blood cell counts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this