Genetic influences on life span and its relationship to personality: A 16-year follow-up study of a sample of aging twins

Mosing, Miriam A., Medland, Sarah E., McRae, Allan, Landers, Joseph George, Wright, Margaret J. and Martin, Nicholas G. (2012) Genetic influences on life span and its relationship to personality: A 16-year follow-up study of a sample of aging twins. Psychosomatic Medicine, 74 1: 16-22. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182385784

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Author Mosing, Miriam A.
Medland, Sarah E.
McRae, Allan
Landers, Joseph George
Wright, Margaret J.
Martin, Nicholas G.
Title Genetic influences on life span and its relationship to personality: A 16-year follow-up study of a sample of aging twins
Journal name Psychosomatic Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0033-3174
Publication date 2012-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182385784
Volume 74
Issue 1
Start page 16
End page 22
Total pages 7
Place of publication Philadelphia, PA, United States
Publisher Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objective: The relationship between personality and life span is not well understood, and no study to date has examined genetic influences underlying this relationship. The present study aimed to explore the phenotypic and genetic relationship between personality and life span, as well as genetic influences on all-cause mortality.
Methods: Prospective community-based study including 3752 twin individuals older than 50 years. Neuroticism, psychoticism, extraversion, and social desirability and pessimism/optimism were measured at baseline using the Revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and the Revised Life Orientation Test, respectively. Information on age at death was obtained 16 years after the initial assessment of personality.
Results: Extraversion was inversely related to mortality with the risk of death decreasing 3% per unit increase of the extraversion score. Psychoticism and pessimism were positively related to mortality with a 36% and 39% increase in risk of death per unit increase in the respective personality score. Heritability of life span was 7%. Cross-twin cross-trait hazard ratios (HRs) were only significant for optimism/pessimism in monozygotic (MZ) twins with no significant differences in HRs between MZ and dizygotic twins in all traits; however, there was a trend for slightly higher HRs in MZ compared with dizygotic twins in psychoticism and optimism/pessimism.
Conclusions: Extraversion, psychoticism, and optimism/pessimism are significant predictors of longevity; extraversion is associated with a reduction, and pessimism and psychoticism are associated with an increase in mortality risk. Genetic influences on longevity in Australian twins are very low (7%). Our data also suggest a small, albeit nonsignificant, genetic influence on the relationship of pessimism and psychoticism with life span.
Keyword Longevity
Genetic architecture
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online before print December 7, 2011

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 5 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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