The Huffington Post:
When actor James Gandolfini died in the summer of 2013, at age 51, a prominent cardiologist described him as “a heart attack waiting to happen.” The award-winning Sopranos star was overweight and inactive, and on the evening he died, he had indulged himself in a diet of rum, beer and fatty foods. In short, he didn’t take care of himself, and this lack of self-discipline no doubt contributed to his untimely death.
Scientists have long known that personality is a good indicator of future health and mortality. In fact, character traits are better prognosticators than either intelligence or socioeconomic status, not just for heart attacks but in general for poor health and early death. But it’s not easy to measure personality in a reliable way, since self-reports are notoriously biased and misleading.
That’s why psychological scientist Joshua Jackson, of Washington University in St. Louis, turned to friends instead. He and his colleagues decided that, instead of asking subjects about their own temperaments, they would combine the assessments of several close friends — to see if these peer estimates of personality were a better predictor of mortality.
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