The Personality Trait Linked To Long Life

The Personality Trait Linked To Long Life post image

Certain personality traits
predict how long you will live.
People who are persistent and
careful live the longest lives, research finds.
Surprisingly, to live a long
life you don’t need to be particularly happy.
In fact, the people you might
expect to live longest — cheerful, happy-go-lucky types — actually have the
shortest lives.
The reason is that cheerful,
laid-back people tend to be more careless about their health.
Persistent and conscientious
people, though, get that check-up and are more committed to their work.
The conclusions come from a
study that originally included 1,500 smart children.
They were followed from when
they were 10-years-old in 1921.
Professor Howard S. Friedman,
the study’s first author, said:
“Probably our most amazing
finding was that personality characteristics and social relations from childhood
can predict one’s risk of dying decades later.”
Namely, being conscientious
predicted a long life, explained Professor Leslie R. Martin, study co-author:
“…participants who were the
most cheerful and had the best sense of humor as kids lived shorter lives, on
average, than those who were less cheerful and joking.
It was the most prudent and
persistent individuals who stayed healthiest and lived the longest.”
The study also found that
people who were the most committed to their jobs lived the longest.
Productive people lived longer
than their more laid-back peers.
Professor Friedman said:
“…we found that as a general
life-orientation, too much of a sense that ‘everything will be just fine’ can
be dangerous because it can lead one to be careless about things that are
important to health and long life.
Prudence and persistence,
however, led to a lot of important benefits for many years.
It turns out that happiness is
not a root cause of good health.
Instead, happiness and health
go together because they have common roots.”
Some other pointers for a long
life from the study included:

  • Help others: it can lengthen
    your life.
  • Avoid getting divorced if you
    are a man. Women, though, do just as well without their husbands.
  • Don’t start formal schooling
    too soon — early play is important.
  • Do work hard and stay
    committed to what you do.
It’s never too late to make a
change, said Professor Martin:
“Thinking of making changes as
taking ‘steps’ is a great strategy.
You can’t change major things
about yourself overnight.
But making small changes, and
repeating those steps, can eventually create that path to longer life.”
About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from
University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about
scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book
“Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
The research was published in
The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the
Landmark Eight Decade Study (Friedman & Martin, 2011).

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.