Pessimists twice as likely to die from heart disease – study
But before you start joining the ‘glass half-full’ camp, hold up – they also found that optimism didn’t come with any particular benefits.
The extensive study, conducted over the course of 11 years, was published in journal BMC Public Health. The researchers followed 2,267 men and women aged from 52 to 76.
At the very beginning of the study, participants were presented with six statements and were asked to rate, on a scale of 0 to 4, how well the statements applied to them. This was done to establish how optimistic or pessimistic they were.
During the 11 years of follow-up studies, 122 people died from coronary heart disease – which is still the number one killer worldwide. The initial answers of those who later died of the disease pointed to higher levels of pessimism.
The study found that people in the highest quarter of scores on pessimism were 2.2 times more likely to die of heart disease than those in the lowest quarter.
“Your personality traits can make physical health worse,” said the lead author, Dr. Mikko Pankalainen, a psychiatrist at the Paijat-Hame Central Hospital in Lahti, Finland.
“If you’re pessimistic and have some health issues, then it’s even more important to take care of your physical health.”
Conversely, a study from 2013 discussed the positive effects pessimism had on health. Apparently, scientists found those with low expectations for a ‘satisfying future’ actually led healthier lives.
Published by the American Psychological Association, it explained that older people, who tended to have a ‘darker outlook’ on the future, were said to be more realistic with their predictions and were therefore more likely to be accurate about what lies ahead.