Hostile attitudes and effortful coping in young adulthood predict cognition 25 years later

Academic Article


  • Objective: We studied the relation of early-life (mean age 25 years) and mid-life (mean age 50 years) cognitive function to early measures of hostile attitudes and effortful coping. Methods: In 3,126 black and white men and women (born in 1955-1968) from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA), we used linear regression to examine the association of hostile attitudes (Cook-Medley questionnaire) and effortful coping assessed at baseline (1985-1986) to cognitive ability measured in 1987 and to a composite cognitive Z score of tests of verbal memory, psychomotor speed, and executive function ascertained in midlife (2010-2011). Results: Baseline hostility and effortful coping were prospectively associated with lower cognitive function 25 years later, controlling for age, sex, race, education, long-term exposure to depression, discrimination, negative life events, and baseline cognitive ability. Compared to the lowest quartile, those in the highest quartile of hostility performed 0.21 SD units lower (95% confidence interval [CI] -0.39, -0.02). Those in the highest quartile of effortful coping performed 0.30 SD units lower (95% CI -0.48, -0.12) compared to those in the lowest quartile. Further adjustment for cumulative exposure to cardiovascular risk factors attenuated the association with the cognitive composite Z score for hostility. Conclusions: Worse cognition in midlife was independently associated with 2 psychological characteristics measured in young adulthood. This suggests that interventions that promote positive social interactions may have a role in reducing risk of late-age cognitive impairment.
  • Published In

  • Neurology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Albanese E; Matthews KA; Zhang J; Jacobs DR; Whitmer RA; Wadley VG; Yaffe K; Sidney S; Launer LJ
  • Start Page

  • 1227
  • End Page

  • 1234
  • Volume

  • 86
  • Issue

  • 13