Personality traits have been associated consistently with health-related outcomes, but less is known about how aspects of the sociocultural environment modify these associations. This study uses a sample of participants of Mexican origin (. N = 1013) to test whether exposure to the United States, indexed by nativity (Mexicans living in Mexico, foreign-born Mexican Americans, and U.S.-born Mexican Americans), moderates the association between personality traits and body mass index (BMI). Higher Conscientiousness was associated with lower BMI, regardless of nativity. In contrast, the association between Neuroticism and BMI was moderated by exposure to the U.S.: Neuroticism was associated with higher BMI among U.S.-born Mexican Americans (partial r = .15) but not among Mexican participants (partial r = .00), an effect strongest and most robust for the impulsivity facet of Neuroticism. This finding suggests that with more exposure to the United States, those who are more emotionally impulsive are at greater risk for obesity. More broadly, these findings suggest that social and psychological vulnerabilities interact to contribute to health outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nutrition and Dietetics