Quick thinking and feeling healthy predict longer life

Posted on March 1, 2016

Photo: flickr

"Our study shows that two psychological variables, lower self-rated health and age-related decrements in processing speed, appear to be especially important indicators of elevated mortality risk in middle-age and older adults," says psychological scientist Stephen Aichele of the University of Geneva in Switzerland. "This information may facilitate diagnostic accuracy and timely interventions."

Aichele and colleagues Patrick Rabbitt (University of Oxford, UK) and Paolo Ghisletta (University of Geneva, Switzerland) were interested in investigating the relative influence of cognitive, demographic, health, and lifestyle variables in predicting mortality risk.

The results revealed subjective health and mental processing speed to be two of the strongest predictors - that is, better perceived health and smaller decreases in processing speed over time were associated with reduced mortality risk.

Being a woman was also associated with reduced mortality risk, while years of smoking tobacco was linked with an increased risk of early death.

The influence of the two psychological factors relative to known medical risk factors, such as cardiovascular symptoms, came as a surprise:

"The result that psychological variables are so strongly linked to mortality risk is very surprising because much extant evidence supports the hypothesis that the strongest predictors of survival in old age are of medical or physiological nature," explains Aichele.


Category(s):Aging & Geriatric Issues, Health / Illness / Medical Issues, Health Psychology

Source material from Association for Psychological Science


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