In a new study, researchers found for the first time that the immune system directly links personality to the long-term risk of death.
The study sheds new light on why people who are more conscientious tend to live longer.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Limerick, Ireland.
Our personality is critically important throughout our lives, from early stages in our development to the accumulation of the impact of how we think, feel, and behave across our lives, and in the years preceding our death.
It is also becoming increasingly apparent how important personality actually is for our long-term health and resulting longevity.
In the study, the team wanted to find out if a biological pathway such as our immune system may explain why this happens.
They wanted to see if two biological markers which are central to the immune system may explain why personality traits are linked to long-term mortality risk.
Specifically, they wanted to test if interleukin-6 and c-reactive protein which is known to play an important role in age-related morbidity may explain how our personality traits are related to how long we live.
They used data from the Midlife in the United States Longitudinal Study carried out on 957 adults who were examined over a 14-year period.
The team found that part of the reason why people who score higher on the personality trait of conscientiousness live longer is as a result of their immune system, specifically due to lower levels of a biological marker called interleukin-6.
These findings are very important and identify for the first time that an underlying biological marker directly links personality to long-term mortality risk.
The researchers say with replication, these findings provide an opportunity for future interventions to increase our longevity and health across the lifespan.
One author of the study is Dr. Páraic Ó Súilleabháin.
The study is published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
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