Your friends could predict how long you’ll live

New research suggests that not only is there a link between your personality and how long you’ll live, but that your friends’ opinions can predict your longevity.

As Psych Central reports, Psychological Scientist Joshua Jackson (not that one) and his colleagues from Washington University in St. Louis looked at info from research that started in the 1930s, the Kelly/Connolly Longitudinal Study. This involved researchers surveying 300 engaged couples in their twenties about their personalities and asking for personality ratings from five close friends each.

Seventy-five years on, the scientists followed up with the volunteers (or, um, their obituaries) to see how these assessments correlated with participants’ lifespans. They found that younger men seen by their friends as both conscientious and open to new experiences lived the longest.

The women who lived longest, on the other hand, were those who were seen by their friends as being agreeable and emotionally stable as opposed to neurotic. [Huh. Excuse me while I move a few things up my bucket list…] However, it’s worth remembering that these were 1930s ideals/gender norms, and that maybe those women were conscientious daredevils too, but their pals thought it improper to mention.

For both men and women, other people’s assessments were more accurate predictors of a long life than the person’s own analysis of their personality. The difference was slight for men, but substantial for women, meaning perhaps we’re not honest enough with ourselves about our flaws – or that women in the 1930s were less willing to toot their own horns. (That’s not a euphemism.)

Whatever the reason, it seems like, ultimately, taking more pleasure in life and being less stressed has been proven once again to help people live longer. Easier said than done, perhaps, but something to at least aim for in 2015. Finding some friends who think you’re fun and relaxed couldn’t hurt, either.

Image via Marion Doss’s Flickr.

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Diane Shipley