Want To Know How Long You’ll Live? Ask Your Closest Friends

Your best friends might actually know how long before you kick the bucket, according to groundbreaking results from a recent study from Washington University.

Medical XPress has reported new findings from scientists from Washington University, which has suggested that a person’s closest friends can inadvertently give the best indirect estimations on how long someone might actually live. Personality patterns during one’s young adult years might greatly contribute to a person’s longevity, and close friends might actually see these patterns in greater detail than you or anyone else.

Males who were perceived by friends to be open and conscientious end up actually living longer. Females who were seen by friends as being high in emotional stability and agreeableness also enjoyed more years than those who were more emotionally unstable, according to the study.

The results were identified after extensive data analysis on an 80-year-old longitudinal study were conducted. The old study detailed earlier scientists’ results after following the lives of a group of friends in their 20-somethings, most of whom were engaged or married. The study involved intricate analysis on the participant’s personality traits, which were derived from self-reports and from interviews with close friends.

Joshua Jackson, scientist from Washington University and co-author of the study, says friends have a keener sense of a person’s personality patterns, especially those that might actually contribute to making you live longer and shorter. He said, “You expect your friends to be inclined to see you in a positive manner, but they also are keen observers of the personality traits that could send you to an early grave.”

“Our study shows that people are able to observe and rate a friend’s personality accurately enough to predict early mortality decades down the road. It suggests that people are able to see important characteristics related to health even when their friends were, for the most part, healthy and many years from death,” Jackson added.

But how do these seemingly unrelated patterns actually affect longevity? Jackson says men who are more conscientious are more conscious about personal safety. They are more likely to wear seat belts during driving, more likely to exercise and more likely to eat healthily than their less-conscientious counterparts.

On the other hand, females with high emotional stability and agreeableness tend to live longer because they are more likely respond positively to emotional hurdles such as anxiety, sadness and even depression.

Jackson explained why friends tend to see these personality patterns better than anyone else.

“First, friends may see something that you miss; they may have some insight that you do not. Second, because people have multiple friends, we are able to average the idiosyncrasies of any one friend to obtain a more reliable assessment of personality. With self reports, people may be biased or miss certain aspects of themselves and we are not able to counteract that because there is only one you, only one self-report.”

The study has been published on the latest issue of Psychological Sciences.

[Image from Philippe Put/Flickr]