RESEARCH PAPER


Positive attitude towards life and emotional expression as personality phenotypes for centenarians

Kaori Kato1,2, Richard Zweig1, Nir Barzilai3, and Gil Atzmon3
1 Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
2 Weill Cornell Medical College, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
3 Institute for Aging Research and the Nathan Shock Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
Key words:
personality, measurement, Five-Factor Model, centenarians, aging
Received:
2/16/12; Accepted: 5/19/12; Published: 5/21/12
Correspondence:

Abstract

Centenarians have been reported to share particular personality traits including low neuroticism and high extraversion and conscientiousness. Since these traits have moderate to high heritability and are associated with various health outcomes, personality appears linked to bio-genetic mechanisms which may contribute to exceptional longevity. Therefore, the present study sought to detect genetically-based personality phenotypes in a genetically homogeneous sample of centenarians through developing and examining psychometric properties of a brief measure of the personality of centenarians, the Personality Outlook Profile Scale (POPS). The results generated two personality characteristics/domains, Positive Attitude Towards Life (PATL: optimism, easygoing, laughter, and introversion/outgoing) and Emotional Expression (EE: expressing emotions openly and not bottling up emotions). These domains demonstrated acceptable concurrent validity with two established personality measures, the NEO-Five Factor Inventory and Life Orientation Test-Revised. Additionally, centenarians in both groups had lower neuroticism and higher conscientiousness than the US adult population. Findings suggest that the POPS is a psychometrically sound measure of personality in centenarians and capture personality aspects of extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness, as well as dispositional optimism which may contribute to successful aging.