According to this article published in the Journal of ‘Psychology and Aging’, pessimism about the future can make older adults live more healthier and longer lives. The key excerpt from this article is summarized below:
- An extensive longitudinal study was conducted with individuals aged 18 to 39 years old, 40 to 64 years old, and 65 years old and above, from 1993-2003. The individuals were asked to rate how satisfied they were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years, using a 0-10 scale. This data was collected via in-person interviews.
- There were interesting age related differences. Younger adults had more optimistic expectations about the future, middle aged adults had more stable expectations, and older adults had more pessimistic expectations about the future. Younger adults do not have much experience with life and therefore have a positive outlook, which helps them to pursue their goals. At middle-age, adults form a more realistic outlook of what to expect from life. Older adults perhaps have a more pessimistic attitude towards life compared to middle-aged and younger adults because they know that their time is limited and want to enjoy their present rather than expecting things to change in the future.
- Interestingly, pessimism about the future among older adults was associated with a lower decline of health. In other words, a darker outlook on the future makes older adults live a more cautious life, contributing to better health outcomes.
Photo credit: Rhoda Baer, via Wikimedia Commons.