OBJECTIVES: To determine whether the offspring of centenarians have personality characteristics that are distinct from the general population.
SETTING: Nationwide U.S. sample.
PARTICIPANTS: Unrelated offspring of centenarians (n=246, mean age 75) were compared with published norms.
MEASUREMENTS: Using the NEO-Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) questionnaire, measures of the personality traits neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were obtained. T-scores and percentiles were calculated according to sex and used to interpret the results.
RESULTS: Male and female offspring of centenarians scored in the low range of published norms for neuroticism and in the high range for extraversion. The women also scored comparatively high in agreeableness. Otherwise, both sexes scored within normal range for conscientiousness and openness, and the men scored within normal range for agreeableness.
CONCLUSION: Specific personality traits may be important to the relative successful aging demonstrated by the offspring of centenarians. Similarities across four of the five domains between male and female offspring is noteworthy and may relate to their successful aging. Measures of personality are an important phenotype to include in studies that assess genetic and environmental influences of longevity and successful aging.