A recent study has revealed that people who are highly optimistic tend to live a long life of over 85 years and more. The PNAS paper has details which include how the researchers tried to find out the relation between higher positivity and longer life while focusing more on exceptional longevity.
Usually, all the research around longevity is focused on the role of biomedical factors and hence the study was more about the psychological factors that help with longevity. As Lewina O Lee, Ph.D., and associate professor of psychiatry at the school of medicine of Boston University and the corresponding author brought up that there was very less study around the psychosocial effects role in promoting healthy aging.
“According to her and team, optimism was “general expectation that good things will happen or the belief that the future will be favorable because one can control important outcomes.”
The data used for the research included 69744 females from the Nurses Health Study (NHS) and 1429 miles from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS) across the 30 years (1986-2016). The routine also included regular health surveys about diet, smoking, alcohol, and other health-related behaviors and questions on optimism. While 71% of the males who participated died within the 30 years of their follow up, 13% percent of the female participants passed away within 10 years of follow up.
Here’s an example of one of the six questions that the NHS participants were asked –
Rate the statement on whether you agree or disagree “Overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad” on a five-point scale.
The researchers then carried out an analysis of the data and discovered that the most optimistic males as well as females at the start of follow up lived 11-15% longer as compared to those who were least optimistic. The team also found that even after conforming to the health behavior results like educational achievement, depression, diet, doctor visits, smoking, and alcohol, the associations still held true.