The incorporation of conscientious habits into everyday life and relationships has been a focus of psychotherapy and counseling for some time, with many practitioners moving towards ideas of mindfulness and promoting activities and thoughts that encourage this basic trait. Conscientiousness can be difficult to muster –and to find in others– in modern stressful environments, but is believed to have a notable impact on quality of life. Recently, a study centered at the University of Texas at Dallas found that being conscientious, especially as an older adult, can have a major impact on physical health, as well.
The study worked with over eight hundred residents of Illinois, all of whom were between the ages of eighteen and eighty nine. Researchers analyzed participant data to gather information about conscientiousness, defined for the study as ability to finish and focus on tasks, accept long-term rather than immediate rewards, and control impulses. The measure of conscientiousness was gleaned from a standard personality instrument, according to the researchers. Information regarding the participants’ physical health was also gathered, as were personal assessments of health.
Researchers found that those individuals who exhibited a conscientious personality type were more likely to be in good health, an outcome that proved to be especially prominent among those participants over the age of sixty. It was noted that the link between personality type and health may have roots in the higher tendencies of conscientious people to eat well, exercise, and visit doctors for regular checkups, though there are likely other behaviors involved; the conscientious participants, for example, also showed higher educational achievement and success in the workplace. The work suggests that by training people to be more conscientious throughout their daily lives, professional health workers may be able to improve the longevity and well-being of their clients.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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