Optimists vs pessimists: survival rate among medical patients over a 30-year period

Author: Maruta T//Colligan RC//Malinchoc M//Offord KP
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
Conference/Journal: J Intl Soc Life Info Science
Date published: 2000
Other: Volume ID: 75 , Pages: 140-143 , Word Count: 118

Objective: To examine explanatory style (how people explain life events) as a risk factor for early death, using scores from the Optimism-Pessimism scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).

Subjects & Methods: A total of 839 patients completed the MMPI between 1962 and 1965 as self-referred general medial patients. Thirty years later, the vital status of each of these patients was ascertained.

Results: Of the 839 patients, 124 were classified as optimistic, 518 as mixed, and 197 as pessimistic. Follow-up was available for 723 patients. Among these, a 10-point T-score increase on the Optimism-Pessimisum scale (eg. more pessimistic) was associated with 19% increase in the risk of mortality.

Conclusions: A pessimistic explanatory style, as measured by the Optimisum-Pessimism scale of the MMPI, is significantly associated with mortality.