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What Type Are You?
Our personalities do more for us than determine our social circles. Temperament can impact a person's physical health.
"The idea that behavior or personality traits can influence health is one that's been around for a long time. We're just now getting a handle on to what extent they do," said Stephen Boyle of Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.
From those with a chill demeanor to the completely frazzled types, mental factors are ultimately tied to physical health. And while a highly neurotic person might deteriorate more quickly than others, not every character trait will kill you. Some might even boost lifetimes.
CynicismSlide 2 of 15
Cynics who tend to be suspicious and mistrustful of others, a character trait that scientists refer to as hostility, may have an increased likelihood of developing heart disease. "These aren't necessarily hot-headed people, but people who are more likely to read into people's behavior as some hostile motive," Boyle said during a telephone interview.
In a study of more than 300 Vietnam veterans who were healthy at the study start, Boyle found that those who scored high on measures of hostility were about 25 percent more likely to develop heart disease.
Boyle and his colleagues think that hostile individuals might experience more stress, which can cause spikes in an immune-system protein called C3 that has been linked with various diseases, including diabetes. In fact, the participants with higher scores on hostility showed an increase in these proteins while the non-hostile men showed no such increase.Slide 3 of 15
Lack of MeaningSlide 4 of 15
Lack of Meaning
If you lack a sense of purpose, your stay on Earth could be truncated. A study involving more than 1,200 elderly participants who didn't have dementia at the study's start found that those who indicated having a high purpose in life were about half as likely to die over the study period, which lasted up to five years. The results, published in the June 15 issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, held regardless of a person's age, sex, education and race, along with level of depression and neuroticism.
"Persons with high purpose readily derive meaning from and make sense of the events of their lives, and likely engage in behaviors and activities that they deem important," said study researcher Patricia Boyle of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago.
Some other research has suggested that people with a higher sense of purpose may have different levels of stress hormones, better heart health or improved immune systems, though more research is needed to firm up any of these biological mechanisms, she said.
The opposite also holds: "The findings from our study suggested that people who no longer set and work actively toward goals or enjoy their day-to-day activities (how they spend their time) are those with greater mortality risk," Boyle told LiveScience.Slide 5 of 15
Lots of FrettingSlide 6 of 15
Lots of Fretting
People who are highly neurotic — a href=" http://www.livescience.com/5665-neurotic-die-prematurely.html">constantly worried and anxious, and prone to depression — die sooner on average than their chill counterparts. And a recently reported study of nearly 1,800 men followed over a 30-year period suggests that's partly because neurotics are also more likely to smoke. Perhaps having a cigarette eases anxiety, said study researcher Daniel Mroczek of Purdue University in Indiana, adding that such a short-term payoff might not be worth it if it kills you down the line.Slide 7 of 15
Lack of Self-ControlSlide 8 of 15