Negative views lead to early death: study

Sonia Kohlbacher
(Australian Associated Press)


If you’re one for believing that the worst will happen then chances are you’re more likely to die early, new research has found.

But staying positive doesn’t mean you’re going to live longer.

People who scored higher on questions relating to pessimism in the Queensland-based study -published this week in the Scientific Reports journal – were likely to die two years earlier on average than those with lower scores, leader researcher John Whitfield said.

“We found people who were strongly pessimistic about the future were more likely to die earlier from cardiovascular diseases and other causes of death, but not from cancer,” Dr Whitfield, of QIMR Berghofer’s Genetic Epidemiology group added.

“Optimism scores on the other hand did not show a significant relationship with death, either positive or negative.”

Fewer than nine per cent of people surveyed said they were strongly pessimistic, with no differences in optimism or pessimism between men and women.

Also, people’s positive or negative attitude became stronger as they grew older.

Researchers used data from almost 3000 people who completed the Life Orientation Test as part of a bigger survey looking at the health of Australians aged over 50 between 1993 and 1995.

Data was cross-checked with Australia’s death index in 2017 to determine how many of those people had died and the cause of their death.

Dr Whitfield said positive and negative attitudes were not direct opposites to each other, with researchers using separate scales to measure their association with causes of death.

He said the results raised questions about the practical health benefits of teaching people to take a more positive view.


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