Re: Longevity and temperament

Timothy Bates (
Mon, 14 Jun 1999 21:27:16 +1000

Personality and disease is interesting. There is rather a lot of literature on the so-called toxic personality ( and the hypothesis that stress hormones destroy neurons), links suggesting that introverts and neurotic people get less cancer, others saying more, or more heart disease.

I feel that most of these data are pointing to a role of hostility (bad for your heart) and depression (bad for everything). My retrospective advice?

  1. Come from a K strategy group selected for long life, altruism, and high parental investment (which requires parents to be alive, which means you live longer).
  2. Don't get depression Vaillant, G. E., (1998). Natural history of male psychological health, XIV: Relationship of mood disorder vulnerability to physical health. , 155: 184-191.
  3. Don't do depressing stuff like getting divorced. Tucker, J. S., Friedman, H. S., Schwartz, J. E., Criqui, M. H., (1997). Parental divorce: Effects on individual behavior and longevity. , 73: 381-391.
  4. Oh yes, and if you are male, marry someone as far younger than yourself as you can find.

Williams, C. L., Durm, M. W., (1998). Longevity in age-heterogamous marriages. , 82: 872-874.

> This is exactly the opposite of what I remember seeing; it's my memory
> that researchers found that curmudgeonly, selfish, outspoken people
> lived longer. Thus, the stereotype of an old man yelling "You kids get
> off my lawn!" He's still around, while the nice old lady who baked
> everyone cookies is presumably not.