We conducted an online survey including 306 participants aged 18-64years to assess the general factor of personality (GFP) and Big Five personality traits in relation to individual stress and coping reactions following a shooting emergency alarm at a Swiss university campus. Although the emergency eventually turned out to be a false alarm, various witnesses showed pronounced distress owing to a vast police operation. The GFP structure was replicated using two alternative modelling approaches. Neuroticism related substantially to acute fear and traumatic distress as well as to more enduring maladaptive coping. Agreeableness was negatively associated with the coping strategy of medication use, whereas both agreeableness and conscientiousness related positively to social activity following the emergency. The GFP related moderately to peri-traumatic distress and showed a substantial negative association with medication use and a strong positive association with social activity. In conclusion, both the GFP and Big Five traits significantly moderate stress responses following a stressful life event. The GFP predominantly relates to socially adaptive coping, whereas in particular neuroticism accounts for acute stress reactions such as fear and traumatic distress. These findings support the notion that personality influences how persons react in the face of adversity.

Big Five personality traits, Coping, General factor of personality, Life event, Psychopathology, Public mental health, Stress reaction
dx.doi.org/10.1002/smi.2671, hdl.handle.net/1765/87947
Stress and Health
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Hengartner, M.P, van der Linden, D, Bohleber, L, & von Wyl, A. (2017). Big Five Personality Traits and the General Factor of Personality as Moderators of Stress and Coping Reactions Following an Emergency Alarm on a Swiss University Campus. Stress and Health, 33(1), 35–44. doi:10.1002/smi.2671