• Germany edition
 
Study: Pessimists live longer, healthier lives
Photo: DPA

Study: Pessimists live longer, healthier lives

Published: 28 Feb 2013 14:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Feb 2013 14:20 GMT+01:00

Researchers in Germany and Switzerland found that older people who believe their life satisfaction will be above average in future face a 10-percent higher mortality risk or are more likely to develop physical health problems, the DIW think-tank said.

"It is possible that a pessimistic outlook leads elderly people to look after themselves and their health better and take greater precautions against risks," said one of the researchers, Frieder Lang.

"It seems that older people who have a low expectation of how contented they will be in future lead longer and healthier lives than those who believe their future is rosy," DIW said.

The study was conducted by a team from the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuernberg, the Berlin-based DIW as well as Humboldt University in Berlin and the university of Zurich.

They analysed long-term data compiled between 1993 and 2003 where the same people belonging to three different age groups were asked every year to assess their current level of life satisfaction and how contented they expected to be in five years.

Over the 10-year period the researchers checked with each participant six times whether their expected level of satisfaction tallied with reality five years on.

Results showed 25 percent of older participants realistically estimated their future contentment, while around 43 percent underestimated it and 32 percent overestimated, the DIW said.

Young adults mostly had an unrealistically rosy view of their future, while middle-aged people were largely spot on, it said.

AFP/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

15:19 February 28, 2013 by simski
I'd rather live happy and short than mope around for a couple more years.
16:17 February 28, 2013 by Bulldawg82
I'm optimistic that I will live longer.
17:54 February 28, 2013 by ND1000
@simski, well said. I agree.
17:57 February 28, 2013 by mignargon
And who wants to be longer if you're pessimist?
19:11 February 28, 2013 by yllusion
Optimism shouldn't be confused with lack of judgement and irresponsibility. Did this study really differentiate these things? If we look at people who are very pessimistic, those who even suffer from depression, they are often self neglecting, auto punishing and even suicidal. You have also to assess how much care people take of themselves. Pessimistic people may be more aware of dangers and therefore protect themselves better against risks and diseases, while optimistic people due to ignorance or due to a naive mind may be less aware of risks and consequently expose themselves to danger.

So, being optimistic or pessimistic without knowing how much care one takes of him/herself doesn't mean anything.
21:35 February 28, 2013 by McM
I was afraid of that. Or was I just a frayed knot?
13:22 March 1, 2013 by ichbines
The logic is right I think. Life has an overall tendency to be difficult, unfair and disappointing. Pessimists who assume this, are not depressed because they have already assumed they were going to have defeat and disappointment. Optimists however falsely assume life will treat them right and as a result they are constantly disappointed and depressed.
15:41 March 1, 2013 by Bulldawg82
I'm optimistic that I will turn into a pessimist one day.
00:31 March 2, 2013 by yllusion
@ichbines You are assuming that optimists are liers and pessimists are honest. If we assume that, nothing more makes sense in the research. We have to compare people that take the same amount of care about their health, that eat similar things, that do comparable amount of physical exercises, that have comparable genetic background, etc., but one is constantly satisfied with life, seeing everything in a positive way, always in good mood, and the other is constantly unsatisfied with life, seeing everything in a negative way and constantly in bad mood. And in the end we can't escape to the fact that what really matters is living better, not necessarily longer.
11:09 March 2, 2013 by Roberto Gold
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:40 March 3, 2013 by raandy
yllusion we could make the argument that optimists are liberals and pessimists are conservative -:)
13:09 March 9, 2013 by sszorin
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
07:09 March 12, 2013 by wegosolo
This article is just a cheap ploy to keep Germans critical. Humph!
Today's headlines
Cars set on fire across Berlin overnight
A burnt out car on Alten Jakobstraße, Kreuzberg, on Thursday morning.

Cars set on fire across Berlin overnight

Ten cars were set on fire across Berlin on Wednesday night and Thursday morning in the second night of disturbances in the the city. READ  

Organized crime on the rise in Germany
Police escort a motorcycle gang in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

Organized crime on the rise in Germany

Organized criminals are increasingly active in Germany, with the mafia as well as biker and international gangs making headway in the country, according to a government report. READ  

Nazi hunters find 80 living 'war criminals'
Jerusalem's Simon Wiesenthal Centre director Efraim Zuroff at the launch of a campaign to find remaining war criminals last year. Photo: DPA

Nazi hunters find 80 living 'war criminals'

The Israeli branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre on Wednesday urged Germany to prosecute alleged members of Nazi death squads during World War II, giving it a list of 80 suspects. READ  

Germany ranks third in world university list
Students at Munich's LMU. Photo: DPA

Germany ranks third in world university list

German universities have shot up the world's leading higher education rankings, with Germany now having more institutions among the world's best than any other country after the US and UK. READ  

The Local List
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Photo: Jan Perlich/Munich RFC

Eight expat groups to save you in Germany

Think you're the only English speaker in your town or region? Think again! The Local List this week runs through eight of the best expat groups and clubs in Germany. READ  

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost
Former GDR political prisoners Hartmut (l) and Gerda Stachowitz in a East Berlin prison which has stood empty for 20 years. Photo: DPA

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost

Benefit payments to former political prisoners of ex-communist East Germany (GDR) will be raised to send an "important message" 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the government said on Wednesday. READ  

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises
Apartments in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises

Germany's cabinet agreed on Wednesday to cap ballooning property rents in high-demand urban neighbourhoods in a law set to come into force early next year. READ  

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find
Passengers are delayed at Tegel Airport. Photo: DPA

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find

UPDATE: The discovery of a US World War II bomb disrupted flights at Berlin’s Tegel Airport on Wednesday afternoon, with no flights taking off or landing for 30 minutes. The bomb has now been defused but later flights are still delayed. READ  

Refugee abuse guards 'nicknamed the SS'
A photo allegedly showing guards abusing one refugee. Photo: DPA/Police

Refugee abuse guards 'nicknamed the SS'

A group of guards who allegedly abused refugees in an asylum centre in western Germany were nicknamed “the SS” after Hitler's stormtroopers, according to one of their colleagues. Photos of guards abusing refugees have sparked a backlash in Germany against security firms. READ  

Nestle wins the food prize no one wants
First prize went to Nestle for its sugary baby food. Photo: Foodwatch

Nestle wins the food prize no one wants

A food watchdog presented Nestle with a prize to avoid on Wednesday for the cheekiest false advertising of the year. The runner-up was a chicken soup with no chicken in a vote of almost 160,000 Germans. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Munich
Bavarian independence becomes a reality... (online)
Photo: DPA/Police
National
'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Immigrants have created how many German jobs?
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Society
'Incest should be legal,' says ethics board
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,155
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd