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Personality Traits May Be Key to Longevity

Last Updated: April 08, 2009.

The offspring of centenarians, who tend to have more successful aging, also exhibit higher than average scores on personality tests for positive personality traits, according to the results of a study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- The offspring of centenarians, who tend to have more successful aging, also exhibit higher than average scores on personality tests for positive personality traits, according to the results of a study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Jane L. Givens, M.D., of Boston University and Boston Medical Center, and colleagues conducted a study of 246 centenarians' offspring with a mean age of 75 to see how their personality traits compared with published norms.

The subjects, both male and female, scored highly versus published norms for extraversion, and scored low for neuroticism, while the women had relatively higher agreeableness scores, and both sexes scored equally within the normal range for the traits of conscientiousness and openness, the investigators found. The findings underscore the importance of including the effects of personality on studies of longevity and its genetic and environmental determinants, the researchers state.

"Such studies will be possible soon with the availability of fruitful genomics technologies, ongoing recruitment of ever-growing samples of long-lived families and collaborating centenarian studies that also enroll offspring," the authors write.

One author has a financial relationship with NEO-FFI, the questionnaire used to test the personality traits.

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