Suffering from chronic medical conditions and engaging in unhealthy behaviors are known risk factors for early death, but findings from a longitudinal study of over 6,000 adults suggests that certain psychological factors may be even stronger predictors of how long we’ll live.
The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“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. While previous research had provided some clues as to the roles played by these variables, comprehensive longitudinal studies were few and far between.