Longevity tends to run in families and is reinforced by specific personality traits among children of centenarians.
Studies of such offsprings showed that their mortality is 120 percent lower than other average. They also have much lower prevalence rates and delayed onsets of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes.
Because personality traits have been shown to have substantial heritable components, researchers hypothesised that certain personality features may be important to the healthy ageing observed in the offspring of centenarians.
Using the NEO-Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) questionnaire, measures of the personality traits for neuroticism (tendency to experience negative emotions), extraversion (gregariousness), openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness were obtained from 246 (125 women and 121 men) unrelated offspring of centenarians with an average age of 75.
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.
The women also scored comparatively high in agreeableness. Otherwise, both sexes scored within normal range for conscientiousness and openness, and the men scored within normal range for agreeableness.
"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 for health, ageing and longevity," said Thomas Perls of Boston School of Medicine and director of the New England Centenarian Study, said a Boston release.
The work was conducted in collaboration with scientists from the National Institute on Aging and appears online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.