Life expectancy: optimists live longer

Optimistic people are getting older

Not only do optimists generally live longer, they are also more likely to live to be over 85 years old. This shows how much our inner attitude can affect our life expectancy.

The current study by the Boston University School of Medicine has now found that an optimistic attitude has a positive effect on people's life expectancy. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences".

Optimism protects against heart problems and premature death

It was not the first time that optimism was associated with health benefits. Various other studies have found that people with an optimistic outlook have a lower risk of heart problems and premature death. According to the results of the latest study, an optimistic attitude seems to have a positive effect on life expectancy. There are many indications that such an extraordinary life expectancy usually goes hand in hand with a longer period of good health and a life without disabilities. By promoting psychosocial assets such as optimism, the chances of healthy and resilient aging increase, the researchers report.

Life expectancy was increased by up to 15 percent

Two previous long-term research projects were evaluated for the study. The researchers compared the life expectancy of the participants, taking into account factors such as age, gender, education, depression and other health aspects. The results of one study show that the most optimistic group of participants had an almost 15 percent longer life expectancy compared to people with the least optimism. Similar results were also observed in the other study.

When comparing life expectancy here, it was found that the fifth with the highest optimism values ​​had an almost 11 percent higher life expectancy. Previous research has shown that people who are more optimistic may also lead a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, the researchers also took into account factors such as physical activity, diet, smoking and how much alcohol the participants drank. The results still showed an increased life expectancy of nine percent in the first study and ten percent in the second study.

Optimistic behavior should be encouraged

Optimistic people showed exceptional longevity and more often reached the age of 85 years or more. It remains unclear why optimism is associated with longevity. When evaluating the data, healthier behavior, less depressive symptoms and more social ties could only partially explain the relationship between optimism and exceptional longevity, the researchers report. Other mechanisms are likely to be involved. The results suggest that people should not only be encouraged to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to maximize their life expectancy, but psychological well-being and an optimistic attitude also play an important role, according to the research team. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Lewina O. Lee, Peter James, Emily S. Zevon, Eric S. Kim, Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald et al .: Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (query : 27.08.2019), PNAS

Video: Why Do Optimists Live Longer? (January 2022).