There’s a good reason to be cheerful – you might live longer!
A study using information collected from male war veterans and female nurses taking part in two long-running studies in the United States found that people who had the highest optimism scores had a lifespan about 9 per cent longer than those with the lowest scores.
These relations were independent of socioeconomic status, health conditions, depression, social integration, and health behaviours (e.g. smoking, diet, and alcohol use).
The researchers did find that people with higher optimism scores generally tended to have higher educational levels, were less likely to have long-term health conditions, less likely to drink alcohol and more likely to exercise.
The researchers also reported an increased chance of surviving beyond 85 with the highest level of optimism: 50 per cent increased chance for nurses and 70 per cent increased chance for men.
However, these results were from a model that did not take into account health behaviours are therefore not significant.
The researchers say that the findings suggest optimism may be an important psychosocial resource for extending life span in older adults.
The research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA – August 2019.