- ROCHESTER, Minn. (Reuters)
- Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, reporting on a study that spanned three
decades, said on Tuesday they have found that optimistic people live about
19 percent longer than pessimists.
- ``It confirmed our common-sense belief,'' said Toshihiko
Maruta, a psychiatrist who was the lead researcher in the project. ``It
tells us that mind and body are linked and that attitude has an impact
on the final outcome, death.''
- The finding came from a look at 839 people living in
the Minnesota county where Mayo is headquartered. They were among a group
given a personality survey between 1962 and 1965 which detected how people
habitually explain the causes of life's event and then classified them
as optimists, pessimists or a bit of both.
- In looking at the test subjects 30 years later and comparing
them against their expected survival rates, the researchers found that
those classified as optimists had a significantly better survival rate
while there was a 19 percent increase in the risk of death for the pessimists.
- The report, published in the February issue of the Mayo
Clinic Proceedings, did not try to explain why positive attitude was equated
with longevity. It said that optimists may be less likely to develop depression
and helplessness or they might be more positive in seeking medical help
and taking care of themselves, with less fatalistic thinking about their
- In an editorial published in the same issue commenting
on the study, Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania,
said pessimism is both identifiable early in life and can be changed.
- As a result, he said, it might be possible to put people
into programs to change their way of thinking and lower their risk for
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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