Negative thinking may be hurting your health. A new study has suggested that highly cynical people have an increased risk of developing dementia. Anna-Maija Tolppanen, one of the study’s authors and Professor at the University of Eastern Finland, said, “There have been previous studies that showed that people who were cynical were more likely to die earlier and have other poor health outcomes, but no one that we could tell ever looked at dementia. We have seen some studies that show people who are more open and optimistic have a lower risk for dementia so we thought this was a good question to ask.”
For the study, researchers specifically looked at the kind of cynicism that involved doubting the truth of what people say and believing most people are motivated by self-interest rather than by what is best for everyone. Researchers tested 1,449 people, with an average age of 71, for dementia, as well as their level of cynicism.
The results showed that people who were cynical were 2.54 times more likely to develop dementia, compared to those with a low cynicism rate. Researchers then compiled the information to see if participants with a higher cynicism score died sooner. They found, despite what pervious research had suggested, these people did not die sooner than non-cynical people.
However, the study does not prove that having a bad attitude leads to negative health outcomes. The study did not prove a causal relationship. While more research is needed, the results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that “over time, people with highly cynical hostility do worse health wise,” said Dr. Hilary Tindle, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.