Does kindness extend life: a psychology professor believes that the effect of a positive mood is greatly exaggerated

By Jurassic JennMar 29, 2024 16:31 PMPsychology
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A psychology professor believes that the effect of a positive mood is greatly exaggerated
A psychology professor believes that the effect of a positive mood is greatly exaggerated. Source: raywilliams.ca

Over the past decade, the number of people reaching the age of 100 has doubled in the United States. However, the centenarians themselves attribute this accomplishment to their good nature.

An article on the SSPDaily website discusses recent research suggesting that the role of a positive attitude in life expectancy may be somewhat exaggerated. Professor David Watson, a personality psychology expert at the University of Notre Dame, shares his perspective on the matter.

"While older individuals might believe that a positive attitude has contributed positively to their longevity, the connection between character and aging is more nuanced," according to Watson. He suggests that other equally important factors influence longevity.

Conscious behavior reduces risk

Watson emphasizes the significance of conscientiousness when analyzing personality traits using the five-factor model. This model categorizes traits into openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Watson notes that conscientiousness, related to organization and discipline, has the most substantial impact on life expectancy. Individuals with high conscientiousness are more likely to take better care of themselves.

"For example, they tend to avoid excessive alcohol consumption and maintain a more balanced diet," Watson explains. "Conscientious people also tend to avoid risky behaviors, resulting in lower accident rates and better health."

The positive aspect is that conscientiousness can be enhanced with age. Watson mentions workshops aimed at improving self-regulation skills to increase conscientiousness.

"The basic idea is that if you want to boost your conscientiousness, start behaving more conscientiously, and your attitude will follow suit," Watson suggests. "For example, strive to be punctual and follow through on commitments."

Watson clarifies that it doesn't mean a positive attitude is inconsequential. Goodwill can contribute to life expectancy, especially in handling stressful situations.

"Psychologically healthy individuals recover more quickly," Watson notes. "They can tell themselves, 'It's not a big deal,' and find ways to regain their balance."

In conclusion, Watson underscores that the key to longevity lies in a healthy lifestyle and the ability to recover swiftly from challenges. Developing these skills, according to the professor, can lead to a longer and more harmonious life.

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