Pessimism shortens lives

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.

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