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A Reason to be Cheerful - Optimists Have Less Memory Decline

A new study just published in Psychological Science finds that having a positive personality disposition has a marked and positive effect on the health of our memory.  

This is interesting. Firstly, a positive disposition has been long associated with a better immune system, greater resilience, happiness and success. Secondly, memory deterioration has long been associated with the aging process

and cognitive decline. 

But a linkage between memory health and a certain personality disposition is newer and worthy of note. This is especially the case in the current uncertainty which is giving rise to high levels of personal anxiety and negativity.

Almost a thousand US middle-aged adults were tested over three different time-periods from 1995 to 2014. Researchers accounted for gender, education, depression and extraversion.

Individuals with 'positive affect' or an optimistic, enthusiastic and cheerful disposition are less likely to experience a  steep memory decline over time and more likely to have a healthier aging experience.

Avoiding negative self-narratives, energy-draining sources in your life and giving yourself esteem-boosting affirmations are ways to maintain cheer. Optimism remains hugely contagious and mitigates life’s challenges.

Rather than the inevitable over-focus on age, it is as important to monitor our overall health span as it is our life span.


Emily F. Hittner, Jacquelyn E. Stephens, Nicholas A. Turiano, Denis Gerstorf, Margie E. Lachman, Claudia M. Haase. Positive Affect Is Associated With Less Memory Decline: Evidence From a 9-Year Longitudinal StudyPsychological Science, 2020; 


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