News Release

Optimism and exceptional longevity

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A study examines the relationship between optimism and longevity. Studies regarding exceptional longevity, defined as living to age 85 or older, have largely focused on biomedical rather than psychological factors. To examine the effects of optimism on exceptional longevity, Lewina O. Lee and colleagues analyzed data from 69,744 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 1,429 men from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study. The women's age range was 58-86 years when they completed an optimism assessment in 2004, and their mortality status was tracked through 2014; the men's age range was 41-90 years when they completed an optimism assessment in 1986, and their mortality status was tracked through 2016. The authors found that higher optimism was associated with increased odds of exceptional longevity, even after taking into account other relevant factors, such as demographics, health conditions, and health behaviors. On average, more optimistic individuals demonstrated 11-15% longer lifespan than less optimistic individuals. The findings suggest that optimism may be an important factor for healthy aging, according to the authors.

Article #19-00712: "Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women," by Lewina O. Lee.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gina DiGravio, Boston University School of Medicine, MA; tel: 617-358-7838; email:


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