The Power of Positive Emotions: It's a Matter of Life or Death-Subjective Well-Being and Longevity Over 28 Years in a General Population

Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas-Houston, School of Public Health, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Health Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.59). 01/2010; 29(1):9-19. DOI: 10.1037/a0016767
Source: PubMed


This study longitudinally examined Subjective Well-Being (SWB) and its components, namely, Positive Feelings (PF, including global life satisfaction [GLS]), domain life satisfaction [DLS], and positive affect [PA]) as well as Negative Feelings (NF) as predictors of longevity in a general population.
Data from the Alameda County Study over 28 years (1965-1993, N = 6856) were analyzed with multivariate Cox Proportional Hazard Models.
Longevity, evaluated by risks of all-cause, natural-cause, and unnatural-cause mortality.
After demographic and baseline health covariates were controlled, SWB, PF, GLS, and DLS significantly predicted lowered risks of all-cause and natural-cause mortality (Relative Risk per unit predictor increase [RR] ranged .904-.989, p values ranged .000-.05). SWB, PF, and GLS also significantly predicted lowered risk of unnatural-cause mortality (RR ranged .862-.961, p values ranged .014-.05). These associations seemed partially or completely mediated by social networks. The associations were also found separately in younger (<55 in age) and/or older (>or=55) subsamples, and were especially salient in the healthy subsample. However, NF showed no associations with the mortality outcomes.
SWB and its various positive components, but not NF, significantly predict longevity in the general population.

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    • "The long-term health benefit of positive affect has been well demonstrated in previous studies; however, one review emphasized that it is positive affect as a trait, rather than as a state, which has been linked to longevity (Pressman & Cohen, 2005). Positive affect along with subjective well-being and life satisfaction has been reported to predict a lower risk of all-cause mortality in a 28-year longitudinal study (Xu & Roberts, 2010). Other longitudinal studies suggest that positive affect may be beneficial for health outcomes in part because it is closely linked to other protective psychosocial factors and healthy lifestyles (Steptoe, O'Donnell, Marmot, & Wardle, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Favorable attitudes, emotions, personality characteristics, and self-rated health have been associated with successful aging in late life. However, less is known regarding these constructs and their relationships to mental health outcomes in the oldest old persons. This study examined cross-sectional relationships of these psychological factors to depressive symptoms in centenarians and near-centenarians. A selected sample of Ashkenazi Jewish older adults aged 98-107 (n = 54, 78% female) without significant cognitive impairment participated. Cognitive function was assessed by Mini-Mental Status Examination, positive attitude toward life and emotional expression by the Personality Outlook Profile Scale (POPS), self-rated health by participants' subjective rating of their present health, and depressive symptoms by the Geriatric Depression Scale. Results demonstrated inverse associations of the positive attitude toward life domain of the POPS and self-rated health with participants' levels of depressive symptoms even after adjusting for the effects of history of medical illnesses, cognitive function, and demographic variables. Additionally, participants with high levels of care showed higher levels of depressive symptoms. Path analysis supported the partially mediating role of positive attitude toward life in the relationship between self-rated health and depressive symptoms. These findings emphasized the important roles of positive attitudes and emotions as well as self-rated health in mental health outcomes in the oldest old. Although, limited by its cross-sectional design, findings suggest these psychological factors may exert protective effects on mental health outcomes in advanced age.
    Aging and Mental Health 06/2015; DOI:10.1080/13607863.2015.1056770 · 1.75 Impact Factor
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    • "Sensitivity to changes in belongingness is frequently explained in evolutionary terms: being a member of a group improves survival chances due to the protection and resources offered by the group (Lancaster, 1986). Relatedly, positive affect experienced in response to social acceptance is likely to strengthen one's psychological resilience (Fredrickson et al., 2003), to promote physical health (e.g., Davidson et al., 2010; Boehm and Kubzansky, 2012), and to increase longevity (Xu and Roberts, 2010). Consistent with these theoretical postulations, social exclusion has been found to provoke significant changes across multiple psychobiosocial domains. "
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    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 03/2014; 8:147. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00147 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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    • "These aspects should be analyzed in further studies. However, considering that life satisfaction is a predictor of longevity irrespective of age and health status (Xu & Roberts, 2010), research on its determinants are really useful in public health investigations, which aim to describe population health and/or to compare subgroups with distinct demographic and lifestyle characteristics (Diener et al., 2013). The results of this paper confirm that morningness is beneficial to well-being and could be considered a protective factor against worse health (Biss & Hasher, 2012) in various cultures. "
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    ABSTRACT: Life satisfaction is a crucial component of well being, thus research of its determinants are of great importance and are conducted worldwide. Recently, morningness has been shown to be related to greater life satisfaction in Polish and German samples; and in the present study, this relationship was tested in a Spanish adult sample. The results provide further evidence for the relationship of morningness with higher life satisfaction, which it seems independent of culture and geographic location.
    Chronobiology International 12/2013; 30(10):1283-1285. DOI:10.3109/07420528.2013.840786 · 3.34 Impact Factor
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