Study: Think Positive, Live Longer20 years, 11 months ago
Posted on Jan 06, 2003, 12 a.m.
By Bill Freeman
Elderly can think themselves into the grave, report finds WASHINGTON, July 28
Elderly can think themselves into the grave, report finds
WASHINGTON, July 28 &emdash; Older people can literally think themselves into the grave by feeling bad about getting old, researchers said on Sunday.
PEOPLE WHO SAID they had more positive views about aging lived an average 7.6 years longer than those with negative perceptions, the researchers report in the August issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.
How one feels about getting old is more important even than having low blood pressure or cholesterol, said the researchers led by psychologist Becca Levy of Yale University.
"The effect of more positive self-perceptions of aging on survival is greater than the physiological measures of low systolic blood pressure and cholesterol, each of which is associated with a longer lifespan of four years or less," Levy’s team wrote.
"It is also greater than the independent contributions of lower body mass index, no history of smoking, and a tendency to exercise, each of these factors has been found to contribute between one and three years of added life."
The researchers looked at a survey of 660 Ohio residents aged 50 and older who took part in the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement as far back as 23 years.
Some of the questions, which have a yes or no answer, included, "As you get older, you are less useful."
"Our study carries two messages. The discouraging one is that negative self-perceptions can diminish life expectancy. The encouraging one is that positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy," said the researchers, whose work was funded by the National Institute on Aging.