People with high levels of cynical distrust of other people and their motivations are almost twice as likely to develop dementia as people that have low levels of cynicism. This is the conclusion based on research conducted by Dr. Anna-Maija Tolppanen of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, Finland. The research was published in the May 28, 2014, issue of the journal Neurology®.
The belief that people are motivated by selfish concerns has been linked to other health problems. This is the first research that directly relates a cynical view of people and the world with the development of dementia. Higher levels of early death were also related to higher levels of cynicism. Long-term cynicism can potentially kill you.
The researchers tested 1,449 people with an average age of 71 with tests that measured their levels of cynicism and the possibility that they had dementia or were developing dementia. Both tests have been used in previous research by other scientists and have proven reliable indicators of cynicism and dementia. The participants were divided into two groups. One group was designated high cynical and one was low cynicism.
The two groups were followed with the same tests for cynicism and dementia for eight years. People who had a cynical view of other people developed dementia a twice the rate of people that did not have a cynical view of others. Some of the participants were followed for 10 years and the researchers found a higher death rate in cynical people than those who were not cynics.
The message is that developing a more positive view of your fellow man may increase your life and prevent dementia. The exact chemical basis for the initial findings has not been discovered but could be related to elevated amounts of stress hormones produced in cynical people. One might hope that cynical pundits might expire sooner and may conclude that cynical pundits may already be in some stage of dementia.