This systematic review examined the relationships between personality traits and subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) in older adults without dementia. A comprehensive literature search conducted according to PRISMA guidelines identified empirical investigations of SCI and at least one of the big five personality traits among adults age 60 or older. All articles were critically appraised using the weight of evidence framework and findings were compared, contrasted, and synthesized across studies. Sixteen of the 797 studies initially identified met eligibility criteria. A higher level of SCI was associated with higher neuroticism in 88% of the studies reviewed. In addition, a consistent negative association was identified between conscientiousness and SCI (57% of studies). No consistent relationships between openness, extraversion, or agreeableness and SCI were identified. Overall, this review supports the oft-cited association between higher neuroticism and greater self-reports of cognitive problems; however, the complexity of the relationship between SCI and personality is not yet fully understood. Future research should examine the extent to which different personality traits predispose individuals to report symptoms versus those traits that are associated with increased sensitivity to early indicators of pathological change.
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