Conscientiousness Key for Overall Health, Study Finds

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.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jacques K

    Jacques K

    April 30th, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    A person who is able to do things right will definitely be better at looking after his own physical health.This means that having one good quality actually helps any person benefit in two ways.

  • G.helmes

    G.helmes

    April 30th, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Discipline in any form will encourage the maintenance of oneself and also discipline in all other forms of one’s everyday life.You will not see a person who is very efficient at work but is a slacker at home too often,simply because a person who is hard-working does not come home and while his time away,he will try and make it productive.

  • Paulette

    Paulette

    May 2nd, 2010 at 2:11 AM

    But I think that this applies to every facet of life.

    Yes conscientiuousness (is that right?) breeds better health, but also a more stable life overall. When you are diligent about the things that you do, you are invested in them and care about the results. Those who only give half an effort really don’t care about what they are doing and in the end don’t really care about the results of the work either.

  • Sarah

    Sarah

    May 3rd, 2010 at 3:07 AM

    Those who are aware want to be that way. They make an effort to be on top of the game and they do that no matter the situation, but for others this is not a priority. Maybe it would be if they understand the many ways that this can extend into other parts of their lives, maybe it would not. I tend to think that some people just really like flying by the seat of their pants. That’s just the way that they choose to live their lives.

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