Ground-breaking research led by University of Limerick has revealed for the first time that the immune system directly links personality to long-term risk of death. The study sheds new light on why people who are more conscientious tend to live longer.
Results from the new international study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity have found that the immune system plays a previously unknown role in the link between personality traits and long-term risk of death.
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. For instance, it has been shown that people scoring lower on the personality trait of conscientiousness (a tendency to be responsible, organized, and capable of self-control) can be at a 40% increased risk of future death compared to their higher scoring counterparts. What is not clear is how this could happen, and importantly, what biological pathway might be responsible for this link.
The researchers wanted to investigate if two biological markers which are central to the immune system may explain why personality traits are associated with long-term mortality risk. Specifically, they wanted to test if interleukin-6 and c-reactive protein which are known to play an important role in age-related morbidity may explain how our personality traits are related to how long we live. The study was drawing on data from the Midlife in the United States Longitudinal Study carried out on 957 adults who were examined over a 14-year period.
Release date: 17 February 2021
Source: University of Limerick