In this event, you’ll learn
What percentage of conscientiousness you have to move into to get its effects
Why happiness isn’t cheerfulness and how laughter doesn’t necessarily make you live longer
How big the impact of a divorce is on a child (and what it can do about it)
What happens to people who are religious at first, but then move away from it
The two main, differing paths to a long life
About the Author
Dr. Howard Friedman is Distinguished Professor at the University of California in Riverside. He is the recipient of two major career awards for his health psychology research. In 1999, he received the Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology Award from the American Psychological Association; and in 2008, he was honored with the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science (APS), an international award and the most prestigious in his field of applied research.
Dr. Leslie Martin is Professor of Psychology at La Sierra University, and Research Psychologist at UC Riverside. She graduated summa cum laude from the California State University and received her Ph.D. from the University of California in Riverside. She has received the Distinguished Researcher Award, and the Anderson Award for Excellence in Teaching, both at La Sierra University. Former department chair, Dr. Martin has also received awards for outstanding advising and for service learning. In addition to her research on pathways to health and longevity, she studies physician-patient communication and its relationship to medical outcomes and has lectured widely on these topics.
After reading “The Longevity Project,” I took an unscientific survey of friends and relatives asking them what personality characteristic they thought was most associated with long life. Several said “optimism,” followed by “equanimity,” “happiness,” “a good marriage,” “the ability to handle stress.” One offered, jokingly, “good table manners.”
In fact, “good table manners” is closest to the correct answer. Cheerfulness, optimism, extroversion and sociability may make life more enjoyable, but they won’t necessarily extend it, Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin found in a study that covered eight decades. The key traits are prudence and persistence. “The findings clearly revealed that the best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness,” they write, “the qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person, like a scientist-professor — somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree.”
“Howard, that sounds like you!” Dr. Friedman’s graduate students joked when they saw the statistical findings. On a recent visit to New York, Dr. Friedman and Dr. Martin did both seem statistically inclined to longevity. Conscientiousness abounded. They had persisted in a 20-year study — following up on documentation that had been collected over the previous 60 years by Lewis Terman and his successors — despite scoffing from students: Get a life!
The hotel room (Dr. Martin’s) was meticulously neat, and they had prudently ordered tea and fruit from room service. Both were trim and tanned, measured in their answers, trading off responses like the longtime collaborators they are. Despite a busy schedule they were organized enough for a relaxed talk.