Negative Thoughts About Old People Are Bad For You

A researcher at the Yale School of Public Health has discovered that "younger people with strong negative stereotypes about the elderly are more likely to experience strokes, heart attacks and other heart problems when they grow old." Does this mean those maintaining strong negative stereotypes about sharks are more likely to get bit?

According to a Yale news release, 440 participants, aged 18 to 49, had their age stereotypes toward the elderly measured. Thirty years later, 25 percent of those with more negative age stereotypes had suffered a heart problem or stroke, while only 13 percent of those with more positive age stereotypes experienced a heart problem or stroke. The study appears in the March issue of the journal Psychological Science.


More startling was that "the effects of the negative age stereotypes were seen above and beyond a number of factors—including blood pressure, family health history, depression and education." Negative age stereotypes include the idea that elderly people are “feeble” or ”helpless.”

Earlier studies have found that negative age stereotypes can increase stress responses and decrease the tendency to carry out healthy behaviors, which are associated with poor cardiovascular health. Just more evidence to support the power of positive thinking.

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