Does Personality Influence Longevity?

Studying the children of those who have lived to 100 or older, scientists believe they’ve found certain personality traits that are associated with healthy aging and a longer life. (Longevity and personality traits have been shown to run in families.) As part of the New England Centenarian Study, researchers gave personality tests to nearly 250 children of centenarians. The results showed that both males and females scored low in neuroticism and high for extroversion—which might affect their health, says Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the study. “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,” he says. “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 extroversion levels have been associated with establishing friendships and looking after yourself.”
The findings appear in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society online. —Heather Wax

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