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J Psychosom Res. 2011 Aug;71(2):90-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.02.012. Epub 2011 Apr 6.

Negative emotionality, activity, and sociability temperaments predicting long-term job strain and effort-reward imbalance: a 15-year prospective follow-up study.

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  • 1IBS, Unit of Personality Work and Health Psychology, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 9, 00014 Helsinki, Finland.



This study examined a longitudinal association between innate temperament and perceptions of long-term work stressors.


The sample consisted of 276 men and 345 women (aged 30-45 years in 2007) participating in the prospective population-based Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study. In 1992, temperament was self-assessed with the EAS questionnaire that assesses three temperamental traits: negative emotionality, activity, and sociability. Perceived work stressors were measured in 2001 and in 2007 using two models: Karasek's demand/control-model in which a combination of high demands and low control results in job strain, and Siegrist's Effort-reward imbalance (ERI) model.


The results showed that higher negative emotionality and lower sociability systematically predicted higher perceived job strain and ERI (P<.001). Activity predicted higher perceived ERI (P<.05). Activity did not predict perceived job strain, as it was related to both higher perceived demands and higher control.


The results suggest that temperament may be a predisposing factor to the experiences of work stressors in adulthood. Although self-reported job strain and ERI are measures of job characteristics, they are affected by individual temperament.

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