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J Pers. 2014 Dec;82(6):472-84. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12062. Epub 2013 Oct 16.

Lifelong pathways to longevity: personality, relationships, flourishing, and health.

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University of Pennsylvania.


Building upon decades of research with the lifelong (nine-decade) Terman Life Cycle Study, we present a life pathway model for understanding human thriving that accounts for long-term individual difference in health and longevity, with a particular focus on child personality and adult social relationships. Developing data derived and supplemented from the Terman study (N = 570 males, 451 females), we employed regression and survival analyses to test models of childhood personality predicting adult psychosocial factors (subjective well-being, family relationships, community involvement, subjective achievement, hardships) and subsequent longevity. Child personality differentially related to midlife social relationships, well-being, and hardships. Conscientiousness and good social relationships predicted longer life, whereas subjective well-being was unrelated to mortality risk. Examining multiple life factors across long time periods uncovers important pathways through which personality relates to premature mortality or longevity. Typical stress-and-illness models are untenable and should be replaced with life span trajectory approaches.

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