Emotionally stable, intelligent men may live longer than neurotic, less intelligent men, a new study hints.
In the study, researchers found that men with neurotic traits -- a tendency to worry and to experience emotional ups and downs -- and lower cognitive ability were at greater risk of dying over a decade or so than men without these traits.
It's known, the researchers point out in a report in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, that people who are neurotic tend to be tense, anxious, and prone to depression and are more likely to smoke and be in poorer health than people who are not neurotic.
However, the effects of these traits may be lessened among more intelligent people, who may be more likely to have the smarts and economic resources to deal with health problems as they arise.
How the study was done
"We found that neuroticism and intelligence interact to predict mortality among Vietnam era veterans," said Dr Alexander Weiss from The University of Edinburgh.
The findings are based on 4 200 men who were tracked for more than 15 years. A total of 234 men died during follow up. After accounting for the influence of age and other factors, high neuroticism and low cognitive ability were both linked to the likelihood of dying, the researchers found.
"The risk posed by lower intelligence was via its association with poorer health, less education, and lower income," Weiss noted. Higher "socioeconomic status" and greater physical health blunted the effect of low intelligence but not high neuroticism on mortality.
"I think the most important message from our study is that psychological factors may interact to impact health," Weiss said.
The current study findings support past studies that have linked personality traits to life span. For example, not having a tendency to be neurotic, being outgoing or extraverted, agreeable and conscientious have all been tied to longer life, as has being smart. – (Reuters Health, June 2009)
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