The research, published in the Journal of Personality, found that Conscientious people live longer. People who are conscientious are more careful, efficient, and self-disciplined — and they aim at achievement.
An orientation towards achievement and a preference for order have been reported to be the strongest predictors of a long life. Highly conscientious people live an average of two to four years longer. They are also less likely to smoke or drink and experience lower levels of stress.
Conscientiousness is one of the five major aspects of personality, along with Agreeableness, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, and Neuroticism.
Professor Howard S. Friedman, the study’s co-author, said:
“The major finding is that this conscientiousness aspect of personality is indeed reliably predictive of mortality risk across studies. This seems to be as important as most commonly assessed medical risk factors, few of which are psychological.”
The research rounded up the findings of 20 separate studies on over 8,900 people around the world. Being more organized and responsible was consistently linked to better health.
Professor Friedman argues that
“Not only do conscientious individuals have better health habits and less risk-taking, but they also travel life pathways toward healthier psychosocial environments – such as more stable jobs and marriages – and may even have a biological predisposition toward good health.”
There is some evidence that people can become more conscientious, especially as they enter stable jobs or good marriages. Even though Conscientiousness as a personality trait cannot be changed in a short period of time, improvements can emerge over the long run as soon as you enter a responsible relationship or career.
Source: Journal of Personality (Kern & Friedman, 2008).