Study: Having Positive View of Life Can Increase Lifespan

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. optimistic / ˌɒp təˈmɪs tɪk / (adj) – having a positive view of life

    People admire her for being optimistic. She never loses hope even during tough times.

  2. life expectancy / laɪf ɪkˈspɛk tən si / (n) – the number of years a person or animal is most likely to live

    If you want to have a higher life expectancy, you have to exercise daily.

  3. through rose-colored glasses / θru ˈroʊzˌkʌl ərd ˈɡlæsəz / (idiom) – with a very positive attitude or outlook

    He is not easily affected by problems. He views life through rose-colored glasses.

  4. speculate / ˈspɛk yəˌleɪt / (v) – to form a theory or idea about something without enough data or information

    The doctors are unsure, but they are speculating that the patient has a very rare disease.

  5. when it comes to (someone or something) / wɛn ɪt kʌmz tʊ / (idiom) – in relation to someone or something

    He is our go-to person when it comes to fitness routines.


Read the text below.

A study revealed that being optimistic can increase a person’s life expectancy.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and National Center for PTSD discovered that people with high levels of optimism were 11% to 15% more likely to live longer than those with low levels. In fact, findings also revealed that those who look at life through rose-colored glasses had better chances of reaching the age of 85.

The researchers defined optimism as a general tendency to expect positive results. This refers to the ability to cope with problems and not merely the absence of sadness or life struggles.

To come up with their findings, the researchers analyzed and compared data from two separate studies. One of the studies involved 69,744 female nurses, while the other involved 1,429 male subjects.

Respondents of both studies answered surveys that assessed their optimism level, overall well-being, and health habits. The female subjects in the first study were followed for 10 years, while the male subjects were observed for 30 years.

Despite concluding that optimism can lead to a longer life, the researchers were unable to determine how exactly optimism affects life expectancy. They speculate that optimism may drive people to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Optimistic people may also be better when it comes to coping with stress. Thus, optimists avoid health risks associated with stress like liver and heart diseases.

The study proves, however, that being optimistic can be an effective strategy to age better. Furthermore, the researchers assert that optimism can be learned. With the help of therapy, people can develop a brighter outlook and a positive attitude toward life.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that being optimistic can improve people’s life expectancy? Why or why not?
• Aside from therapy, how can people learn to become more optimistic? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What do you think is the significance of studying factors that affect life expectancy? Explain.
• If you were to conduct a similar study on life expectancy, what factor would you focus on (e.g. socioeconomic status, health practices)? Discuss.