Personality Traits And Longevity Linked In Study
Extrovert And Agreeable Characteristics Can Lead To A Long Life
Past studies conducted on siblings and offspring of centenarians have clearly demonstrated that longevity runs in strong families. In fact, studies have shown distinctly lower prevalence rates and delayed onset of several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes. Because personality traits have been shown to have hereditary components, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine’s New England Centenarian Study “hypothesized” that certain personality characteristics could be critical to the healthy aging of the offspring of centenarians.
Collaborating with scientists from the National Institute on Aging, the researchers tested their hypothesis using the NEO-Five-Factor Inventory questionnaire to measure the personality traits of 125 women and 121 men with an average age of 75. None of the participants were related, and each was the offspring of a centenarian. The questionnaire scored five key personality characteristics:
Researchers found that both male and female participants “scored in the low range of published norms for neuroticism and in the high range for extraversion.” The women also scored on the high side for agreeableness. Both the men and women participants scored within the normal range for conscientiousness and openness, and the men scored within normal range for agreeableness. The findings were published on line in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
“Interestingly, whereas men and women generally differ substantially in their personality characteristics, the male and female offspring tended to be similar, which speaks to the importance of these traits, irrespective of gender, for health aging and longevity,” says Dr. Thomas Perls, MPH, Director of the New England Centenarian Study.
“For example, people who are lower in neuroticism are able to manage or regulate stressful situations more effectively than those with higher neuroticism levels. Similarly, high extraversion levels have been associated with establishing friendships and looking after yourself,” he says. And he adds, “These findings suggest that personality is an important characteristic to include in studies that assess genetic and environmental determinants of longevity.”
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