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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 759170, 24 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2011/759170
Review Article

Personality and Longevity: Knowns, Unknowns, and Implications for Public Health and Personalized Medicine

1Laboratory of Personality and Development and Rochester Health Decision Making Group, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, 300 Crittenden, Rochester, NY 14607, USA
2Personality Interest Group, Department of Psychology, University of Illinoi, Rochester, NY 14607, USA

Received 31 March 2011; Accepted 19 May 2011

Academic Editor: Bo A. Hagberg

Copyright © 2011 Benjamin P. Chapman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

We review evidence for links between personality traits and longevity. We provide an overview of personality for health scientists, using the primary organizing framework used in the study of personality and longevity. We then review data on various aspects of personality linked to longevity. In general, there is good evidence that higher level of conscientiousness and lower levels of hostility and Type D or “distressed” personality are associated with greater longevity. Limited evidence suggests that extraversion, openness, perceived control, and low levels of emotional suppression may be associated with longer lifespan. Findings regarding neuroticism are mixed, supporting the notion that many component(s) of neuroticism detract from life expectancy, but some components at some levels may be healthy or protective. Overall, evidence suggests various personality traits are significant predictors of longevity and points to several promising directions for further study. We conclude by discussing the implications of these links for epidemiologic research and personalized medicine and lay out a translational research agenda for integrating the psychology of individual differences into public health and medicine.