Psychometric assessment of human life history predicts health related behaviors


  • Daniel J. Kruger University of Michigan
  • Jessica S. Kruger University of Toledo


Life history, health, health behavior, evolution


Life History Theory is a powerful framework that can help promote understanding of variation in health-related behavioral patterns and why they vary consistent with environmental conditions. An organism's life history reflects tradeoffs made in the allocation of effort towards specific aspects of survival and reproduction across the lifespan. This study examines the relationship between psychological indicators of life history strategy and health related behaviors in a demographically representative sample in the Midwestern USA. Slower life histories predicted higher levels of health promoting behaviors and lower levels of health adverse behaviors, even when controlling for relevant socio-demographic factors. The analyses provide a strong test of the hypothesized relationship between life history and health behavior indicators, as life history variation co-varies with these socio-demographic factors. Traditional public health efforts may be reaching their limits of effectiveness in encouraging health-promoting behaviors. Integrating an evolutionary framework may revitalize behavioral health promotion efforts.