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This Personality Trait May Postpone Death

This Personality Trait May Postpone Death post image

The personality trait can have a protective effect on physical health.

Being neurotic can reduce the risk of death, new research finds.

It may be that a lot of worrying — which is part of being neurotic — is actually helpful in preventing mortality.

However, the effect was only seen for people who were currently in either fair or poor health.

In other words, neurotic people with good health saw no health benefit from their tendency to worry.

Professor Catharine R. Gale, who led the research, said:

“Our findings are important because they suggest that being high in neuroticism may sometimes have a protective effect, perhaps by making people more vigilant about their health.”

Neurotic people have a tendency towards:

  • frustration,
  • nervousness,
  • worry,
  • and guilt.

Previous research has found mixed results on the link between neuroticism and mortality.

Professor Gale said:

“When we explored this further, we found that this protective effect was only present in people who rated their health as fair or poor.

We also found that people who scored highly on one aspect of neuroticism related to worry and vulnerability had a reduced risk of death regardless of how they rated their health.”

The conclusions come from data from over half-a-million people aged between 37 and 73.

All had completed personality questionnaires and rated whether they were in excellent, good, fair, or poor health overall.

Professor Gale said:

“Health behaviors such as smoking, exercise, diet and alcohol consumption did not explain any part of the link between high scores on the worry/vulnerability facet and mortality risk.

We had thought that greater worry or vulnerability might lead people to behave in a healthier way and hence lower their risk of death, but that was not the case,”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Gale et al., 2017).