Scientists have found that the children of centenarians generally possess certain personality traits that are associated with healthy ageing and longevity.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine's (BUSM) New England Centenarian Study used questionnaires to obtain measures of the personality traits for neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were obtained from 246 unrelated offspring of centenarians — 125women and 121men — with an average age of 75.
The researchers said that both the male and female offspring of centenarians scored in the low range of published norms for neuroticism and in the high range for extraversion.
They further said that the women also scored comparatively high in agreeableness.
Both sexes scored within normal range for conscientiousness and openness, and the men scored within normal range for agreeableness, the team added.
According to the researchers, personality traits in the offspring of centenarians appear to have distinctive characteristics that may have important implications for their longevity.
"Interestingly, whereas men and women generally differ substantially in their personality characteristics, the male and female offspring tended to be similar, which speaks to the importance of these traits, irrespective of gender, for health aging and longevity,” Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study.
“It''s likely that the low neuroticism and higher extraversion will confer health benefits for these subjects.
"For example, people who are lower in neuroticism are able to manage or regulate stressful situations more effectively than those with higher neuroticism levels. Similarly, high extraversion levels have been associated with establishing friendships and looking after yourself.
"These findings suggest that personality is an important characteristic to include in studies that assess genetic and environmental determinants of longevity. Such studies are currently underway," he added.
The study, conducted in collaboration with scientists from the National Institute on Aging, appears on-line in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society