The Mental Attitude That May Age Your Brain’s Thinking Skills By 10 Years

Over 3,000 people had their personality, memory and thinking skills measured across 25 years.

Over 3,000 people had their personality, memory and thinking skills measured across 25 years.

Young adults who are hostile or aggressive and find it difficult to deal with stress have worse memory and thinking skills later on, a study finds.

The study surveyed 3,126 people who were asked about their:

  • personality,
  • attitudes,
  • memory and thinking skills,
  • aggressive behaviours and any trust issues,
  • as well as how they coped with stress.

People were asked first when they were around around 25-years-old and then followed up when they were around 50.

Dr Lenore J. Launer, one of the study’s authors, said:

“We may not think of our personality traits as having any bearing on how well we think or remember things, but we found that the effect of having a hostile attitude and poor coping skills on thinking ability was similar to the effect of more than a decade of aging.”

The results showed that those with the highest levels of hostility performed the worst on tests of memory and thinking skills.

The study only shows a link between hostility and poor cognitive skills, not necessarily that one causes the other.

Dr Launer said:

“If this link is found in other studies, it will be important to understand whether these personality traits are amenable to change that would lead to interventions that promote positive social interactions and coping skills to see if they could play a role in reducing people’s risk for memory and thinking problems in middle age.”

The study was published in the journal Neurology (White et al., 2016).

Image credit: Atos

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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.