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Resilient Personality Linked to Higher Energy

Resilient Personality Linked to Higher EnergyOne of the conclusions of a four-year research project is that people with a more resilient personality profile are more likely to have greater energy.

Antonio Terracciano, Ph.D., a Florida State University professor, studied the relationship between personality, metabolic rate and aerobic capacity in an effort to determine if certain psychological traits are related to levels of cardiorespiratory fitness.

While past studies have shown that personality traits and cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults are reliable predictors of health and longevity, Terracciano wanted to know more about the link between psychological traits and cardiorespiratory fitness. Could it be that certain personality traits predict the extent of a person’s cardiorespiratory fitness?

Or, to take it a step further, are certain personality traits more desirable when it comes to leading a longer, healthier life?

“We tested implicit assumptions that individuals with certain personality dispositions have different metabolic and energetic profiles,” Terracciano said.

“For example, do those who are assertive and bold expend more energy? Do those who are depressed or emotionally vulnerable have a lower aerobic capacity and less energy? And do conscientious individuals with an active and healthy lifestyle have more energy?”

The research suggests the answer is affirmative to all of the inquires.

Although the results indicate that a person’s basic rate of metabolism is mostly unrelated to their personality traits, a resilient personality profile makes a difference when it comes to aerobic capacity or maximal sustained energy expenditure.

The study involved 642 participants, ages 31 to 96, all part of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, an ongoing multidisciplinary study at the National Institute on Aging.

Terracciano and his team assessed personality traits to include measures of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness — the “big five” traits theorized to comprise personality across cultures. Lower scores on neuroticism and higher scores on the other four dimensions are thought to be a more resilient personality profile.

Subjects were tested to measure their energy expenditure at rest and at normal and maximal sustained walking speeds. Those identified as more neurotic required a longer time to complete the walking task and had lower aerobic capacity.

Conversely, those who scored lower for neuroticism and higher for conscientiousness, extraversion or openness had better aerobic capacity and required less energy to complete the same distance.

“Those with a more resilient personality profile were not just faster and with greater aerobic capacity, but they were also more efficient in their energy expenditure while walking,” Terracciano said. “That is, they could go faster while using relatively less energy.

“Of the five domains of personality, we found no association with agreeableness,” Terracciano said. “This is somewhat surprising given that antagonistic individuals are likely to engage in health risk behaviors, such as smoking, and they tend to have thicker arteries and are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The results may indicate that aerobic capacity is one mechanism through which our personality traits contribute to better health and longevity. Also, greater aerobic capacity in an individual may be a factor in shaping his or her personality, especially when it comes to behaviors that require a higher level of energy, such as extraversion.

Furthermore, the findings suggest potential pathways through which our personality is linked to health outcomes, such as obesity and longevity.

Terracciano said the results highlight the links between personality traits and cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults.

“Both are powerful predictors of disability and mortality,” he said. “I believe this study is informative on the role of psychological traits in lifestyles that are associated with successful aging.”

Study findings are reported in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open access journal.

Source: Florida State University

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Resilient Personality Linked to Higher Energy

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Resilient Personality Linked to Higher Energy. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 15 Feb 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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