Don’t be a jerk. You’ll live longer!

That’s the gist of nearly a dozen new studies, which have been compiled and published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. The research involves millions of people, who were tested and studied at different times over the past seven decades! And the results are fairly unanimous: Two things can increase our life span – being smart, and doing good deeds for others. 

  • For example, a 30-year study found a strong relationship between lower intelligence and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

  • And in a 65-year study, researchers found that grade-school students who showed signs of being conscientious, or charitable towards others, were more likely to still be alive in their 70s!

So what’s going on here? When it comes to being smart: Researchers say smarter people make smarter decisions. Meaning they’re more likely to understand the benefits of exercising, eating a healthy diet, and the hazards of smoking. Smart people also tend to be better at using common sense to avoid accidents.

So what about being nice?

Well, in study after study, people who were highly conscientious were less likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, bone problems, stroke, and Alzheimer’s! A big reason is because nice people have more friends! As we’ve talked about many times, lots of research has shown that social interaction boosts mood and strengthens the immune system.