, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 353–361 | Cite as

Do personality characteristics predict longevity? Findings from the Tokyo Centenarian Study

  • Y. MasuiEmail author
  • Y. Gondo
  • H. Inagaki
  • N. Hirose
Research Article


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”.

Key words

centenarian longevity factors NEO-FFI personality traits 



We greatly appreciate the time, assistance, and kind cooperation provided by the centenarians and their family members, without which this study would not have been possible. This study was partly supported by a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare for a Scientific Research Project on Longevity, a grant for studying the sociomedical background of centenarians (Principal Investigator, Nobuyoshi Hirose), a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science and Culture (No. 15730346, Yasuyuki Gondo), a grant from the Univers Foundation (Yukie Masui), and aid for research from the Keio Health Consulting Center.


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Copyright information

© American Aging Association, Media, PA, USA 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of GerontologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Geriatric MedicineKeio University School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  3. 3.TokyoJapan

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