Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Personality Traits May Determine How Long A Person Lives

Personality traits may play a role in how long an individual lives, say researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University. After evaluating the personalities of 243 individuals aged 100+ (centenarians), the team found that the majority shared similar personality traits, such as being optimistic, easygoing, outgoing, staying engaged in activities and enjoying laugher. These findings indicate that these types of traits may contribute to longevity. The study is published online in the journal Aging. The researchers findings derive from Einstein's Longevity Genes Project, which includes more than 500 Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews aged 95+ as well as 700 of their children. The team selected Ashkenazi Jews as they are genetically homogeneous, this making it easier for the researchers to detect genetic variations. Results from earlier studies have suggest that personality comes from underlying genetic mechanisms that may directly impact health. In this study, the team developed a brief measure (the Personality Outlook Profile Scale [POPS]) of personality in centenarians, in order to identify genetically-based personality characteristics of 243 centenarians. Nir Barzilai, M.D., the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair of Aging Research, director of Einstein's Institute for Aging Research and co-corresponding author of the study, explained: "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 243 centenarians, 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." Furthermore, the team found that the centenarians had higher scores for being conscientious and lower scores for displaying neurotic personality compared with a representative sample of the U.S. population. Dr. Barzilai said: "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." Written By Grace Rattue Copyright: Medical News Today