A New Link Between Personality and Risk Of Early Death


It has been claimed that a person’s personality distinguishes them from the rest of the world. It can be characterized as a combination of a person’s traits and outward appearance, including their mode of thinking, feeling, acting, and physical attributes. A wonderful personality is essential to a person’s success in this cutthroat society. Having a great personality can also help boost your self-confidence and allow you to deal better with the outside world.

On the other hand, most people are unaware of the fact that it is also increasingly clear how crucial personality is for our long-term health and ensuing lifespan. Numerous studies have proved a known correlation between personality and long-term risk of death. However, “how” the two are connected is still unknown, which is a crucial topic.

By examining if a biological process like our immune system may be able to explain why this occurs, a groundbreaking study led by the University of Limerick set out to provide an answer to this question. Their study’s conclusions validated the immune system’s role in this phenomenon and shed new light on why people who are more conscientious tend to live longer.

Personality Pathways To Mortality

From the earliest phases of our growth through the accumulation of the impact of how we think, feel, and conduct throughout our lives, as well as in the years leading up to our death, our personality is extremely significant at every point of our lives. However, the physiological mechanisms underlying this association are not yet fully understood. Personality is also regularly linked to mortality risks.

Due to its significance in age-related morbidity and mortality, the study’s researchers published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity speculated that immune system dysregulation may be one such mechanism. They hoped to find out if two immune system-related molecular markers could help to explain why certain personality traits are linked to a higher risk of long-term mortality. In particular, they sought to determine whether interleukin-6 and c-reactive protein, which is known to play a significant role in age-related morbidity, could help to explain the relationship between personality traits and lifespan.

The researchers use data from the Midlife in the United States Longitudinal Study, which involved 957 persons and was conducted over 14 years, to support their findings. The National Death Index (NDI), closeout interviews, and longitudinal sample maintenance were used to establish and compile vital statistics, with the most recent update occurring in October 2018. The Midlife Development Inventory (MIDI) Personality Scales were used to evaluate personality traits.

For the first time, the researchers discovered that the immune system directly connects personality to long-term mortality risk. As a result, higher conscientiousness personality trait scores have been linked to longer lifespans in part as a result of the immune system, particularly because of lower levels of the biological marker interleukin-6.

There are probably yet undiscovered biological processes that will help us understand all the various ways in which our personalities are so important to our long-term health.

In conclusion, the study found and supported a biochemical mechanism that underlies the link between personality and the risk of long-term death. The researchers hypothesized that, given replication, these findings offer a chance for future interventions to improve our lifelong health. According to this study, the biomarker IL-6, which is central to inflammatory and aging processes, may give a pathway that helps to partially explain why conscientiousness is related to a higher risk of long-term mortality, which adds an important piece to the personality-health puzzle.

Journal Reference

O’Súilleabháin, P. S., Turiano, N. A., Gerstorf, D., Luchetti, M., Gallagher, S., Sesker, A. A., Terracciano, A., & Sutin, A. R. (2021). Personality pathways to mortality: Interleukin-6 links conscientiousness to mortality risk. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 93, 238–244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2021.01.032 

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