Personality predictors of longevity: Activity, emotional stability, and conscientiousness

Antonio Terracciano, Corinna E. Löckenhoff, Alan B. Zonderman, Luigi Ferrucci, Paul Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: To examine the association between personality traits and longevity. Methods: Using the Guilford-Zimmerman Temperament Survey, personality traits were assessed in 2359 participants (38% women; age = 17 to 98 years, mean = 50 years) from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, starting in 1958. Over the duration of the study, 943 (40%) participants died, on average 18 years after their personality assessment. The association of each trait with longevity was examined by Cox regression controlling for demographic variables. Results: In preliminary analyses among the deceased, those who scored 1 standard deviation (SD) above the mean on General Activity (a facet of Extraversion), Emotional Stability (low Neuroticism), or Conscientiousness lived on average 2 to 3 years longer than those scoring 1 SD below the mean. Survival analyses on the full sample confirmed the association of General Activity, Emotional Stability, and Conscientiousness with lower risk of death, such that every 1-SD increase was related to about 13%, 15%, and 27% risk reduction, respectively. The association of personality traits with longevity was largely independent from the influence of smoking and obesity. Personality predictors of longevity did not differ by sex, except for Ascendance (a facet of Extraversion). Emotional Stability was a significant predictor when the analyses were limited to deaths due to cardiovascular disease, with comparable effect sizes for General Activity and Conscientiousness. Conclusions: In a large sample of generally healthy individuals followed for almost five decades, longevity was associated with being conscientious, emotionally stable, and active.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-627
Number of pages7
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Volume70
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Personality
Personality Assessment
Baltimore
Temperament
Risk Reduction Behavior
Survival Analysis
Longitudinal Studies
Cardiovascular Diseases
Obesity
Smoking
Demography
Extraversion (Psychology)

Keywords

  • Health
  • Longevity
  • Mortality
  • Neuroticism
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Personality predictors of longevity : Activity, emotional stability, and conscientiousness. / Terracciano, Antonio; Löckenhoff, Corinna E.; Zonderman, Alan B.; Ferrucci, Luigi; Costa, Paul.

In: Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 70, No. 6, 07.2008, p. 621-627.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Terracciano, Antonio ; Löckenhoff, Corinna E. ; Zonderman, Alan B. ; Ferrucci, Luigi ; Costa, Paul. / Personality predictors of longevity : Activity, emotional stability, and conscientiousness. In: Psychosomatic Medicine. 2008 ; Vol. 70, No. 6. pp. 621-627.
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