We may all be inclined to think that optimism is good for us in some way. In fact, we are surrounded by positive messaging promoting optimism in modern day society—think about how many times you have been told to think positively! Researchers are now doubling down on this notion, claiming that optimism may be associated with healthy aging and longevity, and that this association cuts across racial and ethnic groups and gender. Since most studies have been conducted on non-Hispanic White populations, this one focused on a diverse sample of women as the demographic of choice.
In this study, researchers invited participants from the Women’s Health Initiative (N=159,255). Participants completed measures on optimism, demographics, and health data. This allowed researchers to look for associations among optimism, lifespan, and longevity among subgroups of races: non-Hispanic White, Black, Hispanic/Latina, and Asian women. The results indicated that higher optimism was associated with longer lifespan and longevity across racial and ethnic groups. It is important to note that lifestyle choice did mediate that relationship. But researchers believe that the contribution of lifestyle to these associations is only modest and does not take away from the major finding that optimism is related to longevity.
The study found that racially diverse women with higher levels of optimism are associated with longer lifespan and longevity. This finding is consistent with other studies?? that found these same associations for White women too. The effect of optimism may act like the factor of exercising, which in separate studies was also found to be a contributing factor to increased life expectancy. Researchers recommend that future studies should fine tune the mechanics that lifestyle factors like exercise and optimism play with the association of longevity.
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Koga, H. K., Trudel‐Fitzgerald, C., Lee, L. O., James, P., Kroenke, C., Garcia, L., … & Kubzansky, L. D. (2022). Optimism, lifestyle, and longevity in a racially diverse cohort of women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 70(10), 2793-2804. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9588526/pdf/nihms-1829736.pdf