Individual differences as predictors of accidents in early adulthood.
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Young, J. Kenneth.
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Within the last decade, researchers within the field of epidemiology have begun to use measures of intelligence to predict health-related outcomes in the emerging sub-field of cognitive epidemiology (CE). Researchers within CE have been successful in demonstrating that intelligence is a significant predictor of important heath-related outcomes ranging from mortality to dementia (Batty, Deary, & Gottfredson, 2007; Snowdon, et al., 1996), often independent of potentially confounding variables (e.g., socioeconomic status). One health outcome that has not been thoroughly explored in the CE literature is accidents and unintentional injuries. Such health impairments pose a significant health threat for adults and children, due to their long term sequelae, both individually (Berger & Mohan, 1996), and at the public health level (Segui-Gomez & Mackenzie, 2003). Subsequently, their investigation and, ultimately, prevention appears to be a fruitful area of inquiry. One potentially confounding variable that has not been investigated extensively in the study of accidents, as well as CE literature in general is personality--despite a literature that suggests certain personality measures predict important life outcomes (Roberts, et al., 2007). The current study used probit regression with unobserved latent variables to investigate the relationship between cognitive ability (as measured during early adolescence) and personality traits in predicting accident incidence in early adulthood using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health dataset. Childhood socioeconomic status and adulthood physical activities were used as covariates. Findings suggest that neither childhood IQ nor personality proved to be meaningful predictors of accidents in early adulthood, but physical activity in adulthood was a consistent and meaningful predictor. Discussion, limitations, and suggestions for future research conclude the study.