Research into the differing outcomes associated with optimism and pessimism highlights significantly differing results between the two.
The phenomena of ‘pessimism’ or ‘optimism’ can be understood by examining how people explain life events (i.e. their explanatory style). Optimists explain positive events in terms of personal, permanent causes and negative events in terms of external, temporary causes. Pessimists react in the opposite way.
In the study a total of 839 patients completed an Optimism/Pessimism scale between 1962 and 1965 as self-referred general medical patients. Thirty years later, the status of each of these patients was ascertained. Among these, a 10-point score increase on the Optimism-Pessimism scale (eg, more pessimistic) was associated with a 19% increase in the risk of mortality.
The researchers concluded that a pessimistic explanatory style is significantly associated with mortality.
For further information on the study click here
Expecting good things to happen appears to instigate a self fulfilling prophecy leading to better health and well being. A recent study has found that higher optimism increases the chances of staying healthy in later life.
Data came from the US Health and Retirement Study which looked at a nationally representative sample of 5,698 aged 50 and older. The participants undertook face-to-face interviews in 2006 and 2008, as well as follow-up measures every two years until 2014.
The results revealed that higher optimism at start of the study was linked to an increased chance of staying healthy (good physical and cognitive functioning and no major chronic diseases) over the next six to eight years, even after accounting for other factors such as race, income, depression, alcohol use, smoking, physical activity, and body weight. Participants who scored in the top quartile for optimism were 24% more likely to remain healthy as compared to those in the bottom quartile for optimism.
To access the research https://academic.oup.com/aje/article-abstract/188/6/1084/5369505 (pay wall in force)