A new study shows that your personality has an impact on your health, especially on this part of your body.
Your personality influences a lot of things. It points towards the things you enjoy doing and the types of friends you have. And now, according to a new study, we know that it can also protect your brain from cognitive impairment.
The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, indicates that people who are more conscientious and extroverted are likely to keep their brains more healthy. On the other hand, people with higher levels of neuroticism have higher odds of cognitive decline.
The study analyzed the personalities of 2,000 people participating in a longitudinal study from Chicago that’s been conducted since the late ’90s. The study analyzed three personality traits (conscientiousness, extroversion and neuroticism) and compared them to people’s cognitive decline as they aged up.
“Personality traits reflect relatively enduring patterns of thinking and behaving, which may cumulatively affect engagement in healthy and unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns across the lifespan,” said the study’s lead author Tomiko Yoneda.
Researchers found that people who were extroverted and conscientious had a more positive approach to life’s challenges, while those with neurotic traits lived life in the opposite way. They had more stress in their lives and experienced more anxiety in response to everyday frustrations. Finding that neuroticism is associated with cognitive decline makes a lot of sense; people with this personality trait find it more common to ruminate, experience anxiety, irritability, and more.
According to the researchers’ math, an 80-year-old person with high conscientiousness might live up to two years more than a person with low levels of this same trait. Another interesting result researchers made was that those who were extroverted had higher odds of recovery when faced with mild cognitive impairment.
It’s surprising to learn that something as individual and hard to categorize as people’s personalities has a direct impact on their brain, yet it also makes a lot of sense. Our behaviors and reactions to everyday challenges strengthen the more we use them, and while we all have our predispositions, it is possible to learn skills that can minimize our stress and thus the health of our brains.