Cheer up… you might live until you're 100! Those with the most positive outlook live longest, says study
22:30 GMT, 27 May 2012
Cheery: People with a positive outlook on life live longer, a study found. (Posed by model)
For all those pessimists among you, there’s some even worse news. Optimists appear to live longer.
According to research, those who make 100-plus tend to have a sunny disposition.
Scientists who studied 243 centenarians found that, far from being world-weary, most were cheerful and sociable.
The positive personality traits may in part be genetically based, the researchers believe.
The study involved Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe. They are good candidates for gene studies because they are genetically similar to one another.
Tests showed that the study group had lower ‘neurotic personality’ scores than a representative sample of the general population.
They also had higher scores for being conscientious.
Nir Barzilai, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Institute for Aging Research in New York, said: ‘We found qualities that clearly reflect a positive attitude towards life.
‘Most were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing.
‘They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up.’
Factors: Previous studies had looked at physical advantages that may help people live longer, such as naturally high levels, rather than personality. (Posed by model)
The study was part of the Longevity Genes Project investigating more than 500 Ashkenazi Jews over the age of 95, and 700 of their offspring.
The findings were published in the latest online edition of the journal Aging.
Dr Barzilai added: ‘Some evidence indicates that personality can change between the ages of 70 and 100, so we don’t know whether our centenarians have maintained their personality traits across their entire lifespans.
‘Nevertheless, our findings suggest that centenarians share particular personality traits and that genetically based aspects of personality may play an important role in achieving both good health and exceptional longevity.’
Previous research on longevity has focused on physiological advantages that may help people live longer, such as naturally high levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) or ‘good’ cholesterol.