If you ever stop to wonder why different people navigate differently through life, the answer is personality traits. The Five-Factor model lists 5 big personality traits amongst which conscientiousness takes a spot.
In the simplest of terms, this refers to the tendency for keeping oneself organized, keeping impulses under control, and delaying gratification. On the Big Five, you’ll also find neuroticism, extroversion, openness, and agreeableness.
While these personality traits have been known to have psychological impacts on a person’s life, research now points towards their association with mortality, as well as long-term health outcomes.
Conscientiousness and Longevity
Conscientiousness has been linked to beneficial health-related habits such as less smoking, lower alcohol consumption, more physical activity, and even healthier eating habits. Moreover, people who scored low in this trait, even despite factors like marital status, education, and healthy habits, were found to be 1.4 times more at risk for death through a meta-analysis.
Another research uncovered a link between lower IL-6 levels and conscientiousness. A high IL-6 level is known to be a leading cause of premature mortality and adverse long-term health conditions.
While studies do point towards minor positives associated with conscientiousness, it is unknown exactly how it contributes to promoting longevity. Seeking answers, the University of Limerick, in partnership with Florida State University, Humboldt University, and West Virginia University, carried out a study on how conscientiousness affects IL-6 and CPR, which leads to longevity.
Details on the Study
Using the Midlife Development Inventory (MIDI) Personality Scales, 957 adult participants were made to indicate their personality traits through a four-point Likert scale. Blood samples were taken from the participants following this to gauge their CPR and IL-6 levels. Variables that could affect study outcomes, including gender, age, education, race, physical activity, smoking status, medication, and chronic conditions, were also taken into consideration.
The final results showed what researchers already knew – conscientiousness leads to lower mortality risk. What they did discover, however, was that IL-6 accounted for only 18% of decreased mortality rate, while CPR seemingly played no role.
Once sociodemographic variables were taken into account and adjusted by the team, the remaining 4 big traits didn’t exhibit the same results or association as conscientiousness did.
All in all, the study proves that to achieve a longer lifespan, science suggests the power of lowering the IL-6 levels in the body, which can be done through conscientiousness.