The Personality Trait Linked To Longer Life

This personality trait can be boosted using simple exercises.

This personality trait can be boosted using simple exercises.

People who are optimistic tend to live longer, research finds.

In fact, being optimistic — a trait that can be boosted — can increase the odds of reaching 85-years-old by up to 70 percent.

Optimism has also been linked to better memory, psychological resilience and higher quality of life.

Optimistic people tend to expect positive outcomes in the future.

Critically, optimists believe they can control their lives and make improvements.

So, optimistic people may live longer partly because they develop healthier behaviours.

Psychological resilience is also a factor, said Dr Eric Kim, the study’s first author:

“While most medical and public health efforts today focus on reducing risk factors for diseases, evidence has been mounting that enhancing psychological resilience may also make a difference.

Our new findings suggest that we should make efforts to boost optimism, which has been shown to be associated with healthier behaviors and healthier ways of coping with life challenges.”

The study included 70,021 nurses, whose health was tracked over six years.

The results showed that the most optimistic women had a 30 percent lower risk of dying than the least optimistic women.

Among the reduced risks linked to optimism were:

  • 38 percent lower chance of dying from heart disease,
  • 52 percent lower chance of dying from infection,
  • 16 percent lower chance of dying from cancer.

Optimism can be learned

The good news is that optimism is not fixed in stone.

Exercises such as visualising your ‘best possible self‘ have been shown to increase optimism.

Here is how I’ve previously explained the exercise:

Visualising your best possible self may sound like an exercise in fantasy but, crucially, it does have to be realistic.

Carrying out this exercise typically involves imagining your life in the future, but a future where everything that could go well, has gone well.

You have reached those realistic goals that you have set for yourself.

Then, to help cement your visualisation, you commit your best possible self to paper.

This exercise draws on the proven benefits of expressive writing.

The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Kim et al., 2016).

The Maverick Or The Contrarian: Which Non-Conformist Are You? (M)

Study reveals society’s stereotypes about those who go against the grain.

Study reveals society's stereotypes about those who go against the grain.

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Imposter Syndrome: The Signs That You Underestimate Yourself (M)

Talking to others about imposterism can help to recalibrate a person’s estimation of their own abilities.

Talking to others about imposterism can help to recalibrate a person's estimation of their own abilities.

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The Strong Personality Trait That Indicates High IQ

This character trait is linked to a high IQ.

This character trait is linked to a high IQ.

Being conscientious is linked to having a high IQ, but only among females, a study finds.

People who are conscientious are more careful, efficient and self-disciplined — and they aim for achievement.

Among males, however, those who are more careless and indifferent have higher IQs.

The study of school children also found that introverts who are conscientious get the best grades.

Fear may also be a factor in driving up grades, the Swedish research found, since neurotic pupils got better grades.

Neurotic people tend to worry more, which may motivate them to work harder if their worries are stoked by the system.

Ms Pia Rosander, the study’s first author, said:

“We have a school system in Sweden that favours conscientious and fear-driven pupils.

It is not good for psychological well-being in the long term if fear is a driving force.

It also prevents in-depth learning, which happens best among the open personality types who are driven by curiosity.”

The study included 200 pupils entering secondary school at 16 who were followed for three years.

The results revealed that girls who were eager to please got better grades.

On the other hand, boys were more likely to be curious, but the system tended not to feed their curiosity.

Ms Rosander said:

“Greater conscientiousness, i.e. getting things done, arriving on time, etc. may be a way for boys to compensate for a lower IQ.”

The study also found that introverts get better grades, probably because extraverts have so much to distract them.

Ms Rosander said:

“My studies clearly show that the school system needs to be more individualised.

How else can we support talented pupils with the ‘wrong’ personality type, those we call under-performers, who are capable but lack the ability to plan their school work, for example?”

The study was published in the journal Learning and Individual Differences (Rosander et al., 2011).

2 Fascinating Signs Of A Stronger Immune System

These two personality traits are linked to having a stronger immune system.

These two personality traits are linked to having a stronger immune system.

People with a positive and uninhibited personality tend to have a stronger immune system, research finds.

People with stable emotions, who are extraverted and outgoing also tend to have lower activation of their immune system, suggesting it is more healthy.

People who are extraverted tend to be focused on the world around them and are most happy when surrounded by people and when active.

Two signs that a person has a positive and outgoing personality are strongly disagreeing with both the following statements:

  • “I often find myself worrying about something.”
  • “I would rather keep people at a distance.”

The conclusions come partly from a study which found that people who are extraverted and have stable emotions are at lower risk of dying from peripheral artery disease.

In contrast, at the other end of the spectrum, a negative, inhibited personality is linked to a weaker immune system.

This type of negative personality is sometimes known as ‘type D’, where D stands for distressed.

The study’s authors explain:

“Preliminary evidence suggests that personality traits such as hostility may also be associated with the severity and progression of atherosclerosis [plaque buildup] in patients with PAD.

Another potential individual risk factor in this context is the distressed personality type (type D).

Type D refers to the joint tendency to experience negative emotions and to inhibit self-expression in social interaction.”

The researchers tracked 184 patients with peripheral artery disease.

The results showed that people with a type D personality were at higher risk of dying.

A type D personality refers to people who are neurotic and introverted.

One of the reasons for the link may be, the authors write:

“…inadequate self-management of chronic disease is a potential behavioral mechanism that may explain the relation between type D personality and poor prognosis in cardiovascular disease.”

The study was published in the journal The Archives of Surgery (Aquarius et al., 2009).

Are You A Worrier? Study Reveals An Unexpected Upside Of Being Neurotic (M)

Being neurotic might have a surprising benefit to physical health.

Being neurotic might have a surprising benefit to physical health.

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The Personality Trait That Indicates High Intelligence (M)

The study had 129 people given tests of personality and intelligence.

The study had 129 people given tests of personality and intelligence.

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The Personality Trait Linked To A Stronger Immune System (M)

This personality trait is linked to low levels of interleukin-6, which is often a marker that the immune system is functioning better.

This personality trait is linked to low levels of interleukin-6, which is often a marker that the immune system is functioning better.

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The Personality Trait That Is A Sign Of Poor Mental Health

This personality trait is linked to mental health problems.

This personality trait is linked to mental health problems.

Being impulsive can be a sign of poor mental health, research finds.

People who are impulsive tend to prefer a small immediate reward over a larger reward later on.

Impulsive people tend to act on their immediate thoughts and emotions without thinking about the consequences.

In other words, impulsive people want to have fun now, not later — even if waiting is more sensible.

People who are depressed, have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or some eating disorders are more likely to be impulsive.

Psychologists can measure this type of impulsivity with a test of  ‘delay discounting’.

Delay discounting is the idea that people tend to discount a reward more, the longer the delay until they receive it.

So, psychologically, $5 right now is worth more than $10 in three weeks time.

Or, as the proverb has it: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

People who can delay their gratification find it easier to wait for their rewards.

However, people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder find it particularly hard to delay gratification.

The conclusions come from a review of 43 separate studies.

Dr Michael Amlung, the study’s first author, said:

“The revelation that delay discounting is one of these ‘trans-diagnostic’ processes will have a significant effect on the future of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.”

Among people with mental health problems, though, anorexia was the exception.

People with anorexia tend to make excessively self-controlling decisions.

This makes sense given that anorexia is a disorder characterised by a very high level of self-control over eating behaviours.

Professor Randi McCabe, study co-author, said:

“Examining factors that cut across psychiatric disorders, such as delay discounting, helps to illuminate commonalities and distinguishing characteristics amongst disorders that then guide further research on treatment and prevention.”

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry (Amlung et al., 2019).

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