5 Personality Traits That Will Help You Live Longer (And 5 That Won't)

Your personality is made up of unique patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that distinguish you from others. This collection of traits, as they are called, is the result of your biology and your life experiences. Everyone has personality traits that are considered "good" and "bad." For example, optimism is considered a good trait, while hostility is a bad trait. We know that these are closely related to the psyche and mental health. What isn't as well known is that they're also related to physical health. 

Research shows that having more of the good personality traits can prevent disease and help you live longer. People with more negative personality traits tend to have less healthy lifestyle habits and more stress, both of which can contribute to the development of disease. The good news is that research also shows that personality is flexible and can change over your lifetime (via Greater Good Magazine). If you currently recognize any of these traits that can be detrimental to your health, you can work to change them. 


Optimism is a positive outlook on life that research confirms has a strong influence on health and overall well-being. A 2019 study involving over 70,000 participants found that people with self-rated high optimism tended to lead healthier lives and had a higher likelihood of reaching age 85 or older than less optimistic people (per Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

The reasons for these results are unclear, but researchers think it's a combination of biological and behavioral aspects. Optimistic individuals have lower inflammation levels, healthier cholesterol profiles, and tend to have healthier habits such as regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, and abstaining from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Optimism also helps people cope better with illness and recovery. They are also more resilient and tend to have lower stress levels. Stress is associated with the development of a number of conditions, including high blood pressure and blood sugar, digestive diseases, chronic pain, and a host of mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety (via GoodRx).

While genetics play a role — optimism is about 25% to 30% heritable — factors like income, education, geography, and social status influence one's optimism (via Harvard Health Publishing). Environmental changes and alterations in social structures might impact optimism levels, yet people can learn to cultivate greater optimism independently.

Practices like seeking opportunities in challenging situations, choosing healthier activities during challenging times rather than relying on substances like drugs and alcohol, and practicing gratitude all contribute to a positive outlook.


Conscientiousness is a personality trait characterized by a person's tendency to be organized, responsible, and diligent in their actions. People with high levels of conscientiousness are typically more thorough and reliable and have a strong sense of duty in their approach to tasks and responsibilities. Research shows they also have better and health and live longer (via a study in Health Psychology).

There are many possible reasons for this. Conscientious people tend to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking and excessive drinking. They are also likely to be more proactive about healthcare, getting regular medical checkups and quickly addressing medical problems. Their structured and disciplined approach also ensures that they stick to medication schedules and doctor's recommendations, which leads to better and faster recovery from illness. 

Conscientious people also tend to have lower stress levels, which can reduce the risk of stress-related illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and digestive disorders. Conscientiousness also leads to a healthier brain, improving cognitive functioning and lowering your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Like most personality traits, conscientiousness is partly heritable (via Scientific Reports). But it can also be learned. To become more conscientious, focus on setting clear goals, establishing routines, and prioritizing organization in your daily tasks (via Foundry). 


Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? Extroverts tend to thrive in social settings, gaining energy from interactions and often seeking external stimulation. Introverts, on the other hand, find solace in quieter, more solitary environments, where they recharge by reflecting inward and engaging in deeper, more introspective activities. Neither one is better than the other, but some evidence shows that being more extroverted may keep you healthier. One study found that people who are more social and engaged in life have lower levels of an inflammatory molecule called interleukin 6 that is associated with stress. People with higher levels of this molecule are more susceptible to the effects of stress and the development of stress-related diseases (via Futurity). 

One explanation for this is activity level. Extroverts tend to be more active, and an active lifestyle has been shown to reduce inflammation, stress, and the risk of disease. Better mental health could also play a role, as scientists have linked extroversion with a greater level of happiness (via Scientific American). Mental health has a large effect on physical health. For example, depression has been found to increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes (via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Even if you don't want to go out and socialize all the time, cultivate connections with close friends and family. Also, try to stay active; walking or hiking in nature alone or with a friend is a great way to stay healthy and remain true to your introverted spirit.

Openness to experience

Openness to experience is a personality trait characterized by a tendency toward curiosity, a vivid imagination, and a willingness to explore new ideas and unconventional perspectives. People with this trait often embrace change, have a broad range of interests, and possess a creative and imaginative outlook on the world. They may also have better health, as high levels of openness have been linked to higher levels of well-being and happiness.

Happier people tend to have lower stress levels and are better able to cope with stress. They also tend to have a more positive outlook on life. Both of these have significant effects on physical health and protecting against disease. One study (via Social Psychological and Personality Science) found that people higher in openness had a lower risk of disease and death from all causes. Another study (via PLOS ONE) showed that women who displayed high levels of openness were better able to tolerate and adjust to stressful experiences. Their more moderate response to stress reduced some of the negative cardiovascular effects, such as elevated heart rate, compared to the group that rated lower in openness. Less stress on the heart over time leads to better cardiovascular health. 

You can work on developing openness by exposing yourself to new experiences. Take a trip to a new place, talk to someone you wouldn't normally talk to, or learn a new skill or hobby. Each time you try something new, your horizons broaden and your mind opens. 


Agreeableness doesn't just mean saying yes to everything all the time. Rather, it's a tendency towards cultivating harmony by being cooperative, compassionate, and considerate in your interactions with others (via Berkeley Well-Being Institute). People with high levels of agreeableness tend to value interpersonal relationships more, and are more empathetic to the feelings and needs of those around them. They are more able to create and maintain strong social connections, contributing to a supportive network that positively impacts their well-being. Their interactions with people are generally more positive, and they experience lower levels of stress, which reduces their risk of stress-related diseases

Research shows that agreeable people are less likely to engage in unhealthy and dangerous behaviors, such as smoking, drinking excessively, drunk driving, and engaging in risky sexual activities (via the European Journal of Personality). They are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors such as regular exercise and healthy eating. One large 2022 study in Frontiers in Psychology linked agreeableness with consumption of healthy foods like leafy green vegetables, fish, and fruit. People high in agreeableness are also more likely to deal with stress in positive ways, rather than abusing substances or overeating (via Evidation). 

If you rate low on this trait, you have the power to change. Set small goals and tackle them one at a time. For example, work on showing more compassion or listening more attentively. When you feel the urge to be argumentative without good reason, take a few deep breaths and step back to examine the situation and your feelings.


Hostility is usually considered an emotion associated with anger and aggressive behavior. But it's also an innate personality trait characterized by unfriendliness, opposition, resentment, alienation, disapproval, and even violent behaviors (via Mind Help). It's associated with negative personal interactions and relationships, social isolation, and higher stress levels. High levels of cortisol, the "fight or flight hormone," released during hostile interactions can have deleterious effects on health over time. Research (per the Handbook of Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine) shows that chronically elevated cortisol levels can increase inflammation in the body and weaken the immune system.

Hostile people are less likely to take care of themselves. According to a 2013 study, hostile people are more likely to smoke and live a sedentary lifestyle (via the Journal of the American Heart Association). Along with chronic stress, these factors greatly increase their risk of poor cardiovascular health, including high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Their risk of death from all causes is significantly higher than that of people with low levels of hostility.

Some hostility is genetic, and some comes from your environment. Becoming less hostile takes great commitment and focus. Mindfulness, or the practice of staying aware of your actions and feelings, can help you slow down and process situations with less reactivity. Stress-reducing practices such as yoga, meditation, and breathwork can also help lower your hostility and its effects on your health. Lastly, getting help from a professional therapist or counselor can help you work through past trauma and other factors that trigger your angry behavior.


Neuroticism is a personality trait that reflects a person's tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, worry, and moodiness. People high in neuroticism tend to be more emotionally reactive and prone to stress, often seeing situations as threatening or overwhelming. They may be more sensitive to stressors and more likely to experience psychological distress and emotional instability (via Clinical Psychology Reviews).

High neuroticism levels are associated with increased susceptibility to mental health disorders, particularly anxiety disorders and depression. People with high neuroticism often struggle with persistent feelings of unease, leading to a cycle of negative emotions that can trigger stress responses and hinder healthy coping skills.

The chronic stress associated with high neuroticism levels can have detrimental effects on the body. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones like cortisol can lead to weakened immune function, cardiovascular health issues, and an increased risk of certain chronic conditions. Additionally, people high in neuroticism may be more likely to engage in unhealthy activities, such as smoking, excessive drinking, or poor eating habits, which further increase health risks (via Journal of Psychiatry Research).

Strategies to reduce neuroticism include mindfulness and meditation, which can help you lower your stress levels and be able to see situations more clearly and rationally. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you reframe your thoughts and develop healthier ways of coping with negative emotions. Making healthy lifestyle changes like getting regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and getting enough sleep can also help reduce your neurotic tendencies and improve your overall health and well-being.

Emotional suppression

Emotional suppression is the conscious or unconscious effort to reduce or conceal your emotions. It involves controlling or repressing feelings, often due to social or situational pressures, to present a different emotional expression than what you genuinely feel (via Healthline). 

Everyone tries to hide their emotions at times, but doing it regularly can have significant impacts on both your mental and physical health. Chronic emotional suppression can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Bottling up your emotions may result in high levels of mental distress, contributing to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

Prolonged emotional suppression can also have negative effects on your physical health. Chronic stress from the ongoing effort of trying to suppress your emotions can lead to increased levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which, over time, can weaken the immune system, elevate blood pressure, and contribute to cardiovascular issues (via Psychology Today). Suppressed emotions can manifest in other ways, causing symptoms that aren't necessarily linked to a condition, such as headaches, muscle tension, or gastrointestinal problems. 

Developing healthy emotional regulation strategies, such as acknowledging and expressing emotions in appropriate ways, seeking social support, practicing mindfulness, and getting professional help if needed, can help you overcome emotional suppression and its impacts on your health. Creating a supportive environment that encourages open expression of feelings without judgment can also improve your emotional well-being and overall health.

Social inhibition

Social inhibition is a personality trait of people who tend to restrain or hold back their behavior or self-expression in social situations, often due to feelings of self-consciousness, fear of judgment, or a desire to avoid negative judgment from others. It's associated with a reluctance to engage freely in social interactions or express oneself openly (via Practical Psychology).

People high in social inhibition may experience increased levels of stress and anxiety in social settings. The fear of negative judgment or social rejection can lead to persistent feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and increased social anxiety. Chronic social inhibition can lead to social isolation or difficulties in forming meaningful connections, impacting your social support network, which can increase feelings of loneliness and emotional distress. These effects can greatly increase the risk of depression and anxiety disorders.

The persistent stress associated with social inhibition can have detrimental effects on your physical health. Heightened stress levels over time can lead to increased cortisol production, impacting the immune system and contributing to a weakened immune response, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses. Research has linked social inhibition with an increased risk of heart disease (via Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine).

Reducing social inhibition often involves strategies aimed at improving self-confidence, developing social skills, and gradually exposing yourself to social situations to reduce fear and anxiety. Seeking support through therapy or support groups can also help you overcome social inhibition and its impacts on your health.


If you spend most of your day thinking about yourself, you may have high levels of the self-centered personality trait. People high in self-centeredness predominately focus on themselves and their needs and desires, often at the expense of others. Excessive self-centeredness may lead to feelings of isolation, troubled relationships, and loneliness. The inability to empathize with others or understand their perspectives can make it hard to develop meaningful connections, contributing to feelings of alienation and social detachment. This isolation can lead to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Chronic self-centeredness and its associated stressors can have negative effects on physical health, too. Prolonged stress resulting from conflicts or social isolation can contribute to increased cortisol levels, which can weaken immune function and cardiovascular health, per 2017 research published in PeerJ. 

You can work on reducing self-centeredness by practicing empathy, engaging in active listening, and building a mindset that values the needs of others. Performing acts of kindness, volunteering, and seeking therapy or counseling to improve your interpersonal skills can help you broaden your perspective, develop healthier relationships, and improve your overall health and well-being.