Study Shows That Neurotic People May Live Longer

Are you a worrier? Are you the type of person who stays up late fretting over the day’s events and what tomorrow might bring? Has anyone ever called you neurotic? Though this personality trait isn’t typically considered a good one to have, new research shows that the neurotics among us may have reason to stop worrying and start celebrating. Neuroticism might reduce a person’s risk of dying early.

The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, studied roughly 500,000 people in the UK aged between 37 and 73. The group completed personality test that measured their levels of neuroticism. They also provided health information, such as blood pressure and BMI. The participants were followed for six years, with some surprising results: those who tested high in the trait of neuroticism tended to outlive those who didn’t.

Even more astonishing was the fact that high levels of neuroticism only seemed to have this protective effect on participants who rated their health as fair or poor. Those who were deemed to be in excellent health received no benefit from their neurotic personality.

The researchers also divided the neurotics into two subgroups: the worried-vulnerable and the anxious-tense. The worried-vulnerable are more prone to hurt feelings, embarrassment, and feelings of guilt. The anxious-tense were, well, more anxious and tense instead of worried. In another interesting finding, the research team discovered that only the worried-vulnerable type of neurotic had a reduced risk of death. This was true no matter the health of the participants.

Despite their tendency to worry, being neurotic was not found to have an effect on a person’s tendency to engage in poor lifestyle habits, like smoking, eating an unhealthy diet, or drinking to excess. Apparently, constant worrying about one’s health does not translate into healthier behavior.

It is possible, however, that this propensity to worry may cause neurotics to seek medical help for potential problems sooner than their non-neurotic counterparts. This could explain the neurotics’ lower death rates from diseases like cancer, where early intervention can save lives. Though this was not tested, it does provide a reasonable explanation for the results.

So, next time you find yourself unable to sleep due to the worries that plague you, you can take heart in the fact that the trait that causes your sleepless nights might one day save your life.

Next Article
  • Dutch Company Wants to Train Crows to Pick Up Cigarette Butts

    Pollution in the form of garbage on city streets is a major problem in cities worldwide. Discarded cigarette butts make up a large portion of this street rubbish as more than 4.5 trillion of them are thrown out every year. These cigarette remains then go on to contaminate the environment with toxic chemicals and carcinogens....

    Read More
  • The Surprising Diet of the Vikings

    The Vikings are well-known for their warlike nature. It is no wonder then that images of a Viking feast often contain large platters of roasted meat and mugs of some strong alcoholic beverage, with little else as an accompaniment besides perhaps some type of bread. You might be astonished to learn, then, that the Viking...

    Read More
  • Whales and Dolphins Have Human-Like Societies

    Whales and dolphins have long been known to be smart animals. Some of these oceanic mammals can communicate with each other using a special language, and some, like bottlenose dolphins, even use simple tools. They are almost human-like in their intelligence at times. And a new study, published in the journal Nature and Ecology, shows...

    Read More
  • What Happened to Bobby Dunbar?

    On August 23, 1912, the Dunbars, a wealthy family from Opelousas, Louisiana, went on a fishing trip to Swayze Lake, also in Louisiana. The small family group consisted of Percy and Lessie Dunbar and their two young children, Alonzo and Bobby. At some point that day, four-year-old Bobby went missing. Volunteers and police searched the...

    Read More
  • The Unlikely Witch of Edinburgh

    From late 17th-century Scotland comes one of the strangest stories of witchcraft to emerge out of that period. Most people who were convicted and executed for the crime of witchcraft had to have their confessions tortured or bullied out of them. But this person’s confession was totally voluntary and completely unexpected. Major Thomas Weir was...

    Read More
  • The First Vending Machine Was Invented 2000 Years Ago

    Vending machines are a part of everyday life for most people. They can be found just about everywhere, from offices to schools to rest stops on the side of the highway. With the vending machines of today dispensing everything from sodas to electronics, one could be forgiven for thinking they are purely a modern invention....

    Read More
  • Origins of Easter Island’s First Inhabitants Remains Mysterious

    Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is one of the most mysterious places on earth. The tiny, isolated island, with a total area of only 64 square miles and over 1100 miles away from any other inhabited area, is perhaps best-known for its giant statues. These statues, known as moai, are themselves a mystery....

    Read More
  • The Mysterious Tunguska Event

    On the morning of June 30, 1908, a huge ball of fire was observed streaking across the sky in a remote part of Siberia, in Russia. No one knew what it was at the time, but whatever its origins, it exploded above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River, flattening nearly 800 square miles of forest. This strange...

    Read More