To explore whether personality influences longevity we examined the personality characteristics of centenarians. We developed a new method that compares an actual personality test score for centenarians with a predicted test score for a 100-year-old, calculated from younger controls. The participants consisted of 70 cognitively intact Japanese centenarians aged 100-106 years and 1812 elderly people aged 60-84 years, all residents of Tokyo. The NEO five factor inventory (NEO-FFI) was used to assess the "big five" personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The results showed higher openness in both male and female centenarians, and higher conscientiousness and extraversion in female centenarians, as compared to controls. These results suggest that high scores in the specific personality traits conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness, are associated with longevity. We speculate that these personality traits contribute to longevity through health-related behavior, stress reduction, and adaptation to the challenging problems of the "oldest old".
Keywords: NEO-FFI; centenarian; longevity factors; personality traits.