Being positive has been linked to living longer by new research.
People lived longer if they were more:
- optimistic about the future,
- closer to other people,
- and felt more useful and relaxed.
Those who scored in the top sixth for being positive were 18% less likely to die over the next four years.
Other key factors linked to living longer included getting married and having a degree.
The results come from a survey of 28,662 people.
Both people’s mental health and their medical records were examined by the survey.
The people analysed in the survey had similar levels of physical health, income and other demographic characteristics.
Income, perhaps surprisingly, did not have an effect on the chance of dying.
Dr Christopher Jacobi, the study’s author, said:
“The results indicate that better positive mental health seems to have a somewhat protective effect against mortality.
In research literature the most frequently stated ways in which positive mental health is likely to affect mortality are via direct physiological responses such as lowered blood pressure, capacity to cope with stress, less drinking and smoking, an active lifestyle, and better sleep quality.
Likewise, people with high positive mental health might not be affected as severely by potentially negative symptomatic and physiological effects of life events like divorce or unemployment.”
Previous research has also revealed that both extroverts and optimists are more likely to live longer than introverts and pessimists.
“Optimists have healthier hearts than pessimists, a new study of over 51,000 adults finds.
Optimists also had healthier body mass indexes, were more physically active and less likely to smoke.
Researchers found that the more optimistic people were, the greater their overall physical health.
The most optimistic people were 76% more likely to have health scores that were in the ideal range.”
About the author
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, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The new study was presented at the British Sociological Association’s Medical Sociology conference in Birmingham on 8 Sept 2016.