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article imageDoes our personality determine how long we live for?

By Tim Sandle     May 28, 2012 in Health
New York - Reasons for living to one hundred years old have been attributed to diet, low cholesterol and lifestyle factors. Now new research indicates that having a happy personality may also contribute to a long-life.
A science team based at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University, has determined that certain personality traits contribute to certain people living for longer.
From the university’s research brief, it is noticeable that the personality traits in question include being outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and enjoying laughter. This led to the title of the research study, which was "Positive attitude towards life and emotional expression as personality phenotypes for centenarians."
To conduct the research, the website Mid-Day notes, the scientists studied 500 Ashkenazi Jews over the age of 95, and 700 of their offspring. The reason for selecting Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews was because they tend to be genetically homogeneous. This allowed the researchers to notice any genetic differences more easily.
To undertake their assessment the scientists, led by Kaori Kato, used a scheme called the Personality Outlook Profile Scale. From using the scale it was shown that those of the study group who lived longer were people who were characteristically outgoing, optimistic and easygoing in their natures.
Dr Nir Barzilai, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is quoted by The Daily Mail as saying,
“When I started working with centenarians, I thought we’d find that they survived so long in part because they were mean and ornery. But when we assessed the personalities of these 243centenarians, we found qualities that clearly reflect a positive attitude towards life. Most were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing.
They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up. Some evidence indicates that personality can change between the ages of 70 and 100, so we don’t know whether our centenarians have maintained their personality traits across their entire lifespans.
Nevertheless, our findings suggest that centenarians share particular personality traits and that genetically-based aspects of personality may play an important role in achieving both good health and exceptional longevity.”
The findings were published in the journal Aging. The reference is:
Kaori Kato et al. Positive attitude towards life and emotional expression as personality phenotypes for centenarians. Aging, 2012
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