Oh Cruel World: Being a Pessimist Might Make You Live Longer

Illustration for article titled Oh Cruel World: Being a Pessimist Might Make You Live Longer

Feeling optimistic? Well, TERRIBLE NEWS — your optimism is decreasing the longevity of your life. Does that make you feel pessimistic? Then GREAT NEWS — pessimism may help you live longer. Feeling happy again? Well, fuck, you just started the whole cycle over again.


A recent study by researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany have found that pessimists tend to outlive optimists. Says researcher Frieder R. Lang:

"Our findings revealed that being overly optimistic in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death within the following decade.Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions."

Using the results of an annual German survey of tens of thousands of people ages 18-96, Lang's team analyzed the answers pertaining to health, how satisfied the participants were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years.

Lang's team found that 43% of the respondents who were over 65 had underestimated their future life satisfaction, 32% overestimated it and 25% predicted it accurately. The outlook for the 32% who overestimated the satisfaction of their futures five years down the line was decidedly grim — for every notch of overestimation, the researchers found a 9.5% increase in the chance that the respondent would report a disability and a 10% increase in the chance that they would be stone cold dead.

There have been several studies, however, that have found conflicting results. An American study found that resilient attitudes were more important to how people experienced their own aging than actual health and another study found that having a good sense of humor, being outgoing and optimistic could increase your life's longevity.

Well there you have it. Science says that you will live a long or short time if you are optimistic or pessimistic. Hopefully things are much clearer for you now and we can all go on to lead long/short miserable/happy lives.


Pessimists May Live Longer [LiveScience]



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