The number of people who are living to at least 100 years old in the U.S. has doubled over the past decade.
Many centenarians credit their longevity, at least in part, to their positive attitude.
Roslyn Menaker, 103, told The Guardian that “happiness, joy, appreciation … a positive outlook,” are why she has lived so long. Ruth Sweedler, 103, told CNBC Make It that she was always praised for her good attitude growing up. “When I walked into a classroom, my teacher would say, ‘Good morning, sunshine!’ Because I was so cheerful,” she said.
While seniors might feel being positive has played a role in their longevity, the relationship between personality and aging is more nuanced, says David Watson, a former professor of personality psychology at the University of Notre Dame.
“I think the effects of just being positive are overstated,” he says. But there are other traits he believes are closely linked to longevity.
‘Conscientious people don’t do stupid things’
When breaking down personality, it’s helpful to look at the Five Factor Model, a personality theory that suggests most people’s traits can be grouped into five categories: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
Conscientiousness, or how organized and disciplined you are, is the most related to longevity, Watson says.