Optimists are more likely to live longer than those who have a more negative approach to life, a US study has found.
Positive people were more likely to live to the age of 85 or more.
The theory is that optimists may find it easier to control emotions and so be protected from the effects of stress.
And researchers said pessimists could benefit from doing things like imagining a future where everything turns out well.
The study used two existing groups of people recruited for different studies – 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 1,500 men in the Veterans’ Health Study.
Their levels of optimism were assessed, as well as their overall health. They were also asked about exercise and diets, as well as how much they smoked and drank alcohol
On average, the most optimistic men and women had an 11-15% longer lifespan, and were significantly more likely to live to 85 compared with the least optimistic group.
While a lot is known about the risk factors for disease and early death, far less is understood about what the researchers call “positive psychosocial factors” that could enable healthy ageing.
Prof Lewina Lee, associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, who worked on the study, said: “Our findings speak to the possibility that raising levels of optimism may promote longevity and healthy ageing.