To live long, better to be pessimistic

A German study found that people pessimistic about their future living longer. More worried, they take better care of themselves and their health.

And if the pessimistic people lived longer than those who are too confident? In any case the assertions of German researchers in a survey published on the website of the journal Psychology and Aging. The study tip that "older people who expect a low satisfaction with their future living longer and in better health than those who imagine a rosy future."

The researchers were interested in a German socio-economic panel of 40 000 people studied since 1984. Three age groups were distinguished: 18-39, the 40-64 and over 65. The researchers studied the responses between 1993 and 2003 on the state of satisfaction and expectations for the future.

Result? 43% of forecast respondents aged over 65 were more pessimistic than the reality. 32% of respondents were too optimistic and 25% rated their future with lucidity. The most pessimistic are those who had the hope of the higher life.

In addition, the most optimistic people had a risk of death increased by 10% compared to the others.

"It is likely that pessimism encourages seniors to pay more attention to their health and be more cautious vis-à-vis the risks," says Frieder R. Lang, director of the Institute of Psychology of the University gerontology Nuremberg. This awareness leads people therefore less optimistic take better care of their health, running less risk and to be less careless.

The youngest panel remains the most optimistic respondents more advance in age, they become more pessimistic. People between 40 and 64 years are the most realistic.

Source: "SOEP-Studie: Pessimisten länger leben", Frieder R. Lang Institut für Psychogerontologie der Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, February 28, 2013.