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Do conscientious people live longer?

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OBJECTIVE: Following up on growing evidence that higher levels of conscientiousness are associated with greater health protection, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of the association between conscientiousness-related traits and longevity.

DESIGN: Using a random-effects analysis model, the authors statistically combined 20 independent samples. In addition, the authors used fixed-effects analyses to examine specific facets of conscientiousness and study characteristics as potential moderators of this relationship.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Effect sizes were computed for each individual sample as the correlation coefficient r, based on the relationship between conscientiousness and mortality risk (all-cause mortality risk, longevity, or length of survival).

RESULTS: Higher levels of conscientiousness were significantly and positively related to longevity (r = .11, 95% confidence interval = .05-.17). Associations were strongest for the achievement (persistent, industrious) and order (organized, disciplined) facets of conscientiousness.

CONCLUSION: Results strongly support the importance of conscientiousness-related traits to health across the life span. Future research and interventions should consider how individual differences in conscientiousness may cause and be shaped by health-relevant biopsychosocial events across many years.

Source: “Do conscientious individuals live longer? A quantitative review.” from Health Psychol. 2008 Sep;27(5):505-12.

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