Having a positive outlook and being outgoing could make you less likely to suffer from dementia, report finds
- Research shows that certain personality traits are associated with a lower risk of a condition
According to analysis, people who are outgoing, conscientious and have a positive attitude are less likely to develop dementia.
Experts have found that certain personality traits appear to be linked to a lower risk of the condition, which affects almost a million people in Britain.
Researchers analyzed data from eight studies involving more than 44,000 people aged 49 to 81. They were followed for up to 21 years, with 1,703 people developing dementia.
The researchers looked at measures of the ‘big five’ personality traits: conscientiousness, extroversion, openness to experience, neuroticism and agreeableness.
They also focused on well-being – for example, how satisfied people reported they were with their lives and whether they had a positive or negative outlook.
Analysis found that people who were more conscientious – for example, made sure to do things carefully and correctly – who were outgoing or had a positive outlook were less likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
Experts have found that certain personality traits appear to be linked to a lower risk of the condition, which affects almost a million people in Britain (Stock Image)
Some studies also found that participants who scored high on openness to new experiences, agreeableness, and life satisfaction seemed to have some form of protection against the disease.
Meanwhile, those who scored high on neuroticism and who had more negative “affect” – for example, greater feelings of anger, fear, guilt or anxiety – were at greater risk of being diagnosed with dementia.
However, to the scientists’ surprise, no link was found between these personality traits and actual changes in people’s brains after they died.
Emorie Beck, a researcher at the University of California, Davis, and first author of the study, said: ‘This was the most surprising finding for us.
“If personality is predictive of performance on cognitive tests, but not pathology, what might be happening?”
Personality is typically thought to be linked to dementia risk through behavior, the team suggested.
Another explanation could be that some personality traits may make people more resilient to the damage caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, they said (Stock Image)
For example, people who score high on conscientiousness are more likely to eat well and take care of their health, which leads to better health in the long run.
Another explanation could be that some personality traits may make people more resilient to the damage caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, they said.
People with higher levels of certain traits can find ways, whether they are aware of it or not, to cope with and work around their limitations.
The team recommended including measures of psychological traits in the clinical screening or criteria followed for a diagnosis of dementia.
The findings were published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.