2 Personality Traits Linked To Longer Life

There are two psychological traits that help people resists the connection between stress and biological aging.

There are two psychological traits that help people resists the connection between stress and biological aging.

Stress makes people age faster, a study confirms.

Even among relatively young and healthy people, those who had experienced more stress displayed biological markers of greater aging than their actual years.

Avoiding stress, therefore, can potentially help you live longer.

Self-control and resilience

There are also two psychological traits that help people resists the connection between stress and biological aging.

Both resilience and self-control help people defy the aging effects of stress on their bodies.

Self-control refers to the ability to manage our actions and emotions — indeed, higher self-control is linked to looking younger.

Psychological resilience is the ability to overcome challenges and return to a stable frame of mind relatively quickly.

Both of these factors are potentially powerful as they allow people to avoid some of the ravages of stress on their body.

Prolonged stress has been shown to increase the risk of:

  • mood disorders like depression and anxiety,
  • heart disease,
  • addiction,
  • post-traumatic stress disorder,
  • and obesity.

Stress also stops people thinking clearly and regulating their emotions efficiently.

Dr Zachary Harvanek, the study’s first author, said:

“These results support the popular notion that stress makes us age faster, but they also suggest a promising way to possibly minimize these adverse consequences of stress through strengthening emotion regulation and self-control.”

Epigenetic clock

The study included 444 people who had their biological age measured and compared to their actual, chronological age.

Biological age is revealed  by natural chemical changes that occur to DNA, which are known as ‘epigenetic clocks’.

The results showed that these epigenetic clocks had run slower in people who had experienced less prolonged stress.

However, psychological resilience and self-control made a longer and healthier life more likely, even in the face of stress.

Professor Rajita Sinha, study co-author, said:

“We all like to feel like we have some agency over our fate.

So it is a cool thing to reinforce in people’s minds that we should make an investment in our psychological health.”

The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry (Harvanek et al., 2021).


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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.