Sunday, July 6, 2008

Personality Predictors of Longevity in Tokyo Centenarians

Do personality characteristics predict longevity? Findings from the Tokyo Centenarian Study

Journal AGE
Publisher Springer Netherlands
ISSN 0161-9152 (Print) 1574-4647 (Online)
Issue Volume 28, Number 4 / December, 2006
Category Research Article
DOI 10.1007/s11357-006-9024-6
Pages 353-361
Subject Collection Biomedical and Life Sciences
SpringerLink Date Thursday, November 30, 2006

Research Article
Do personality characteristics predict longevity? Findings from the Tokyo Centenarian Study

Y. Masui1, 3 Contact Information, Y. Gondo1, H. Inagaki1 and N. Hirose2
(1) Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo, Japan
(2) Department of Geriatric Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
(3) Present address: 35-2 Sakae-cho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-0015, Japan

Received: 6 June 2006 Revised: 6 October 2006 Accepted: 7 October 2006 Published online: 29 November 2006

Abstract To explore whether personality influences longevity we examined the personality characteristics of centenarians. We developed a new method that compares an actual personality test score for centenarians with a predicted test score for a 100-year-old, calculated from younger controls. The participants consisted of 70 cognitively intact Japanese centenarians aged 100–106 years and 1812 elderly people aged 60–84 years, all residents of Tokyo. The NEO five factor inventory (NEO-FFI) was used to assess the “big five” personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The results showed higher openness in both male and female centenarians, and higher conscientiousness and extraversion in female centenarians, as compared to controls. These results suggest that high scores in the specific personality traits conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness, are associated with longevity. We speculate that these personality traits contribute to longevity through health-related behavior, stress reduction, and adaptation to the challenging problems of the “oldest old”.

Key words centenarian - longevity factors - NEO-FFI - personality traits

Contact Information Y. Masui

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I thought the universal finding when it came to the big five was low neuroticism, a result that isn't seen here. There could be ethnic/cultural issues at play.

I guess there is still a lot of variation when it comes to long-lived people's personalities, but the key is to have less anxiety. So you may be conscientious, for example, but if it's motivated by anxiety about poor future outcomes rather than earnestness and optimism, it probably won't get you as far.

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