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Long-Term Well-Being Linked to Outgoing Personality

Posted Aug 16 2013 10:08pm

Personality dispositions by the time of early adulthood have an enduring influence on well-being decades later.  Catharine Gale, from the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), and colleagues examined data on 4,583 people who are members of the National Survey for Health and Development, conducted by the Medical Research Council of the University of Southampton. All subjects were born in 1946; they completed a short personality inventory at age 16, and again at age 26.  Extroversion was assessed by questions about their sociability, energy, and activity orientation. Neuroticism was assessed by questions about their emotional stability, mood, and distractibility.  Decades later, when the participants were 60 to 64-years-old, 2,529 of them answered a series of questions measuring well-being and their level of satisfaction with life. They also reported on their mental and physical health. Their answers point to a distinct pattern. Specifically, greater extroversion, as assessed in young adulthood, was directly associated with higher scores for well-being and for satisfaction with life. Neuroticism, in contrast, predicted poorer levels of wellbeing, but it did so indirectly. People higher in neuroticism as young adults were more susceptible to psychological distress later in life and to a lesser extent, poorer physical health.

Catharine R. Gale, Tom Booth, René Mõttus, Diana Kuh, Ian J Deary.  “Neuroticism and Extraversion in Youth Predict Mental Wellbeing and Life Satisfaction 40 Years Later.”  Journal of Research in Personality, 26 June 2013.

  
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Anti-Aging Forum MLDP Join A4M
Tip #192 - Stay Connected
Researchers from the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA) report that social isolation may be detrimental to both mental and physical health. The team analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationwide US study involving 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85 years. They arrived at three key findings regarding the relationships between health and different types of isolation:

• The researchers found that the most socially connected older adults are three times as likely to report very good or excellent health compared to those who are least connected, regardless of whether they feel isolated.

• The team found that older adults who feel least isolated are five times as likely to report very good or excellent health as those who feel most isolated, regardless of their actual level of social connectedness.

• They determined that social disconnectedness is not related to mental health unless it brings feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Separately, Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, USA) researchers studied 906 older men and women, testing their motor functions (including grip, pinch strength, balance, and walking) and surveying their social activity, for a period of 5 years. Those study participants with less social activity were found to have a more rapid rate of motor function decline. Specifically, the team found that every one-point decrease in social activity corresponded to an increase in functional aging of 5 years, translating to a 40% higher risk of death and 65% higher risk of disability.

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