• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Study: Pessimists live longer, healthier lives

The Local · 28 Feb 2013, 14:20

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

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
Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Symbols of migrant plight to go on show in Bonn museum
Photo: DPA

A people smugglers' car, a dinghy and a life jacket are among items related to Europe's migration crisis due to go on display at a German museum.

Brexit
Green party demand 'quick and easy' citizenship for Brits
Photo: DPA

The Green party has called for Brits living in Germany to be offered a painless path to obtaining dual citizenship as to "reassure them over the future".

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Far-right AfD reach record high in national poll
AfD leader Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) was backed by 16 percent of respondents in a new poll, which was a new high for the upstart populist party.

Bautzen youth beat up pensioner in racist attack
Photo: DPA

In the Saxon town of Bautzen, which has become a byword for racism and anti-migrant sentiment, two youths have attacked a 72-year-old man, shouting 'foreigners out'.

German lawmakers ratify landmark Paris climate accord
The German parliament (Bundestag). Photo: DPA.

Germany's lower of house of parliament on Thursday ratified the Paris agreement on climate change, following in the footsteps of 60 other countries that have committed to the landmark agreement designed to stem the planet's rising temperatures.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
5,753
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd