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Medicine Science

Certain 'Personality Genes' Correlate With Longevity, Says Study 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-the-not-getting-in-bar-fights-gene-helps dept.
An anonymous reader writes "People who are outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network are likely to live longer than others who don't possess these personality traits, according to new research (abstract). The study reveals how saying, 'It's in their genes' could refer to more than just genetic variations that give a physiological advantage, like having high levels of HDL ('good') cholesterol, because people with positive personality traits appear to live longer than those who do not."
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Certain 'Personality Genes' Correlate With Longevity, Says Study

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  • Uh Oh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @03:32PM (#40122647) Homepage

    optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network

    Well, we here at Slashdot might as well go out and jump off a bridge. Really.

    We're doomed.

    • Re:Uh Oh. (Score:5, Funny)

      by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @03:34PM (#40122665)
      I'm trying to invent a sense of humor so good that I will live forever.

      I just need to be careful to not to stumble across The funniest joke in the world [youtube.com]
      • by Tooke (1961582)
        This should help you out [dilbert.com] -- you can just make your own jokes!
      • I just need to be careful to not to stumble across The funniest joke in the world [youtube.com]

        Wasn't there a song about it? Something along the lines of "Too much laugh will kill you"...

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I'm trying to invent a sense of humor so good that I will live forever

        When my grandmother was 95 she told me "I don't know why people want to live to be a hundred. It ain't no fun bein' old."

        The cause is likely that people who die young usually have maladies like heart disease, diabetes, etc. If your quality of life is bad, you're not likely to be happy and laid back.

    • Re:Uh Oh. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by digitig (1056110) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @03:59PM (#40122817)
      It did strike me that that was one reason people with positive personalities would live longer. Their suicide rate is likely to be lower. Also people who feel they have a lot to live for tend to be more careful driving and so on. Does the study distinguish between natural causes of death and all causes? (It's probably in the RA, but this is /. so I'm not going to read that, am I?)
      • It does not correlate well with the deaths by texting behind the wheel: these lucky people are obviously getting a lot of calls and messages - and by definition they can't ignore any of them, because, well, it could harm their social network as well as reduce degree of both optimism and easygoingness. But sure, they could always use their sense of humor and have a good laugh on poor bastard trying to call them instead of picking up the phone.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, all the study determined was that people approaching 100, from extremely homogeneous groups, were likely to be laid back, socially outgoing, etc.

        Which seems a stupid way to go about it. At 100 years old, you mostly don't give a shit about what anyone thinks, about much of anything.

        Assuming they got to be 100 because they always behaved that way is just dumb.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network

      They sound like the only ones that show up in the studies, easy to find. Mean while the live alone and are fine with it, remember to feed themselves and no central heating crowd fall off the radar. Them and the vampires (if they're not a subset).

      • They sound like the only ones that show up in the studies, easy to find.

        I think that's a good point. My mother, whose father lived to 101 and mother to 95, will be 86 this year. She's a sharp as she ever was, drives like a 30 year old, and worked full time until last year when they laid off half the office. She'd still be working if that hadn't happened. She'll make it to 100 easy.
        And I guarantee that she would not be bothered to answer any kind of questionnaire or participate in a study like that.

    • And here we go again. Someone seizes the very first opportunity to disparage the entire geek community. Speak for yourself pal.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Uh oh! Someone has a short life expectancy!

    • You could just rephrase the article:

      ""People who are outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network are less likely to commit suicide, therefore more likely to live longer", study says.
      DOH.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Is it a bad thing that I read the description and realized I'm basically the opposite of all of those things?

      Fuck it, there's probably nothing to this study anyway. Scientists don't know what the fuck they're talking abbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

  • I expect they're not exactly talking about Facebook... so will Mark Zuckerberg be filing a cease and desist against the authors?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well fuck you too.

  • I guess it works the other way as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, happy people live longer?
    I'm shocked.

    • Re:How surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ne0n (884282) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @04:25PM (#40122937) Homepage
      Bullshit. I submit as anecdotal evidence my finding that the super-old number disproportionately among the crankiest people I know.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        let's explore the space:

        Living longer + larger than average social network = vastly disproportionate experience of friend loss.

        Living longer + optimism = Yeah! joy for me of living in this nursing home for another 20 years!

        Living longer + outgoing = Talking to visitors that aren't there to see you. Year after year and leaving a disproportionate impression

        Living longer + easygoing = I don't care what you think whippersnapper your going to be my single serving friend while you visit your dialysis Alzheimers g

      • No matter my easygoing, optimistic, humorous internal state -- I have a disability whereby I look cranky and/or crazy. I get social crapola by the ton. People treat me like crap. I AM easygoing optimistic and humorous. Will I live long and prosper...or die young?? This study is irritating.
  • FTFS:

    outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network

    All I need now is to buy a controlling stake of FB and I'll live forever!

  • If you are a good guy with friends who looks after himself and stays both mentally and physically active, getting on in life instead of sitting on is fat arse all day you live longer. Who knew?

    • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @03:53PM (#40122783) Homepage

      Or even just having a more positive life (laughing, not stressing out) lowers your blood pressure and keeps you from stroking out.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Only if it's in your genes. If you have developed that personality by yourself that doesn't count.

      • ^ this ^

        Every time the article mentions "personality genes", they put it in quotes too, because, I'm assuming, "many qualities that were associated with having a positive attitude towards life" loosely associated with longevity doesn't (or shouldn't) make the news cycle, unless this is the Obvious News Network.
  • by metacell (523607) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @03:53PM (#40122785)

    Life as an introverted, brooding pessimist with no friends or sense of humour is hell, but at least it won't last as long.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'd congratulate you on coming to terms, but any accolades would only extend your miserable existence.

    • but at least it won't last as long.

      Hey, stop right there! You're being optimistic!

    • by szilagyi (633672)

      That's the spirit! You're probably already increasing your life expectancy.

      Oh, wait.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      "Life: hate it or loathe it, you can't ignore it." -- Marvin

  • by Chrisq (894406)

    "People who are outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network are likely to live longer than others who don't possess these personality traits

    But I'm a computer nerd you insensitive clod

    • "People who are outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network are likely to live longer than others who don't possess these personality traits

      But I'm a computer nerd you insensitive clod

      Let's see ...

      Outgoing: You don't wait for the internet to connect with you, you connect to the internet. How more outgoing could you be?

      Optimistic: Well, you are surfing on the internet, despite all the dangers of malware out there. You must be optimistic, right?

      Easygoing: You are sitting comfortably in front of your computer, instead of hasting through the world.

      Have a good sense of humor: You are laughing at Soviet Russia jokes on Slashdot, right?

      Have a large social network: You are on Facebook, aren't yo

  • These correlations are hardly a surprise If you are healthy, wealthy you are more likely to live longer. And its easier to have a good sense of humor and optimisitic you are settled well. It is also more likely that you have a larger social network then. The correlation between healthy and living longer is trivial. The correlation between wealthy and living longer is no secret since health systems are already selective. If you are padded well you more likely will get an experienced surgeon for example or
    • These correlations are hardly a surprise If you are healthy, wealthy you are more likely to live longer.

      All of the attributes listed (optimistic, outgoing, large social network) are totally orthogonal to being healthy and/or wealthy.

      I have known a number of very ill people (some terminally so) that were still very optimistic, and a lot of outgoing optimistic people that were quite poor...

      Obviously being wealthy means you have treatment options the average person does not have access to, but this study is s

      • The problem there is that it's typical for those of us with disabilities or major/terminal illnesses to minimize our difficulties and try to seem 'normal' in order to not drive others away or create awkward silences -- and it eventually becomes easy to compartmentalize so that when we're with friends/family, we really are happy. It's very hard to describe without giving the wrong impression, but I'm essentially trying to say that while we're not automatically unhappy or miserable (and most of us aren't, on

    • by elucido (870205)

      These correlations are hardly a surprise
      If you are healthy, wealthy you are more likely to live
      longer.

      And its easier to have a good sense of humor and
      optimisitic you are settled well. It is also more likely
      that you have a larger social network then.

      The correlation between healthy and living longer is trivial.

      The correlation between wealthy and living longer is no
      secret since health systems are already selective.
      If you are padded well you more likely will get an experienced
      surgeon for example or get a vital organ faster.

      The wealthy and connected tend to live the longest? Is this supposed to be a surprise to anyone except the wealthy and well connected? I'm sure even they know they live longer. That is why they do everything to protect their wealth and connections.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      AFAIK there's never been a study showing any correlation between wealth and happiness. Lacking a study, it's been my observation that those I knew whose main goal in life was more and more wealth were seldom happy. If you lust for wealth, no amount is sufficient. OTOH I've known a few people who were both wealthy and happy, but their main goal in life wasn't the pursuit of wealth.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @04:24PM (#40122935)

    Who'd have thought that aggressive, competitive people end up dying earlier than more laid back types? Go Science!

    • Of course, in the end, the only thing that matters for determining the composition of the human race is how many descendants you have.
  • This doesn't necessarily mean that being easy going increases your health... it might just mean that easy going people are less likely to piss off homicidal maniacs!
    • by elucido (870205)

      This doesn't necessarily mean that being easy going increases your health... it might just mean that easy going people are less likely to piss off homicidal maniacs!

      Easy going people might just value their lives more and learn to be easy going as a way to protect their lives.

      It doesn't change the fact that being easy going doesn't work in every environment and these sorts of studies don't consider that in some environments aggressive types live longer.

  • Sounds like the life of these people might be fun too. A long and fun life, this is not fair !

    • We make our own fun and we make our own hell - at least a lot of the time. I've long been interested in those quiet old white-haired who have a twinkle in their eye and yet generally had really hard lives. My mother ran old-folks homes so I actually lived in three retirement homes as I was growing up - it taught me that old people are often very interesting if you slow down and listen. Some of them have the wickedest sense of humour!

      One thing I did notice was that the cheerful outnumbered the curmudgeons
  • Well, if this is the case....

    How come I ain't dead yet? ;-)

    -Hack

  • by elucido (870205) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @05:59PM (#40123573)

    The best opportunities go to those born into strong big families. This is the large social network the study is talking about.
    This isn't necessarily a gene because there isn't a specific gene we can identify which determines the size of someones social network, it's more some people are in the lucky sperm club and some are not.

    If you're born into a big wealthy family you'll likely have a large social network, be more outgoing, etc simply because you were born into the environment which rewards that. If you're born into a small poor family none of those traits will be as beneficial. Being funny for instance wont help you if you don't have the large social network to begin with. Being outgoing wont help you if you've got fewer people to be outgoing with. There are too many variables here to conclude genes rather than environment and "luck" determine longevity in this instance.

    • by slew (2918)

      You had be moing there for a little while, but then you tossed in that "wealth/poor" thing.

      I doubt wealth has much to do with

      1. How big the family is
      2. How big the social network is around the family

      Just about all the antecdotal experience I have suggests that wealth is negatively correlated with both family size and longevity...

      • by elucido (870205)

        You had be moing there for a little while, but then you tossed in that "wealth/poor" thing.

        I doubt wealth has much to do with

        1. How big the family is
        2. How big the social network is around the family

        Just about all the antecdotal experience I have suggests that wealth is negatively correlated with both family size and longevity...

        Wealthy families are often socially connected via marriages etc.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Just about all the antecdotal experience I have suggests that wealth is negatively correlated with both family size and longevity...

        Here's a little antecdotal "evidence" (hah!) for you. My mother was the baby of a large family. Her brother, a businessman who wasn't rich but was very well off, died of a stroke at age 28. Her other brother was quite rich, and died at age 70. Her third brother is a university professor and in his nineties, as are all her sisters. At age 84 she's the youngest. Neither she or he

  • People who are outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network are likely to live longer than others who don't possess these personality traits,

    Ugh. I'd rather die a few years earlier than live a vapid existence centered around exchanging banalities with other ape-descendants in meatspace. Fuck that noise.

  • Generally people who have a more positive outlook on life are significantly less prone to stress. This could be a very good reason for why they live longer, as life is somewhat less strenuous for their heart.
    I think it would have been useful if to measure the average stress levels of people involved in this study. I think you may very well find a connection that is less gene-related.

  • by Pseudonymus Bosch (3479) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:47AM (#40128623) Homepage

    A journalist interviews the oldest man in town:
    "How did you manage to reach such an old age? What's your secret?"
    "Oh, it's just that I don't argue anymore"
    "Come on, you can't tell us it's so simple. Please tell us the truth"
    "Well, then it must be for some other reason as you say".

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      A journalist interviews a man on his 100th birthday. "How did you manage to reach such an old age? What's your secret?"

      "Well," says the old man, "in the first place, I don't drink. I don't smoke, and I never drink. I get plenty of exersize and eat right and I don't drink. I attend church every sunday and I don't let a drop of alcohol pass my lips..."

      Right then there's a huge crashing noise from the other room. Startled, the reporter exclaims "What was that?!?"

      "Oh, that's just my dad. He gets like that when

  • Does this mean I'm going to die soon?

  • Once again as with so many other funded studies, they could have just asked me. Like duh.
  • So the angry hobo that stands in traffic screaming at cars will die sooner? Now if we could somehow correlate his behaviour with his genes while taking social factors into account as well.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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