Optimists report higher levels of mental and physical functioning than pessimists, research reveals.
Not only that, but optimists also live longer.
Dr Toshihiko Maruta, the study’s first author, said:
“The wellness of being is not just physical, but attitudinal.
How you perceive what goes on around you and how you interpret it may have an impact on your longevity, and it could affect the quality of your later years.”
Researchers studied 447 people who were followed over 30 years.
Their personality was assessed, along with their physical and mental functioning.
It turned out that pessimists had a lower quality of life, on average.
Dr Maruta said:
“Our study provides documentation for beliefs commonly held by patients and health care practitioners about the importance of optimistic and pessimistic attitudes.
However, questions remain about the practical significance of these findings for health care practitioners.”
Naturally, though, the study cannot tell us if optimism causes these benefits or is a result of it.
Dr Maruta said:
“Explanatory style may have implications for prevention, intervention, health care utilization and compliance with treatment regimens.
Well formulated studies are essential to warrant the extra time, effort and costs associated with efforts to intervene in a patient’s explanatory style or to personalize the care specific to explanatory style.”
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 study was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Maruta et al., 2012).