In 2004, researchers found in church clergy that those with a “high neurotic score” had a risk of early death that was twice as high as those with a low score. Which begs the question, does our personality affect how long we live?
Other studies have found conscientious people have a much lower risk of early death. A recent study has confirmed this, with those scoring lower on the personality trait of conscientiousness, defined as a tendency to be responsible, organised, and capable of self-control, exhibiting a 40% higher risk of early death.
The biological explanation may be that conscientious people have lower levels of ageing proteins, such as interleukin-6 and C-Reactive Protein. This means less inflammation and a stronger immune system, which may ward off infections, injuries and illnesses later in life.
Other personality traits known to enable good health include self-efficacy, being able to adjust to change, decisiveness and being social.
To adapt your personality even slightly, consider these practical suggestions to be a more conscientious person, according to Harvard Medical School:
- Organise your day into small tasks
- Stick to a daily routine, and once you master this, plan your week and months ahead
- Use lists, reminders or others to keep you on track
- Stay socially connected – seeing friends is healthy!