Cynical distrust can lead to dementia, study shows

A new study from University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio has found that cynical distrust– thinking that people’s actions are motivated by selfish means, could cause dementia later in life. “We are not born cynical, but our personality is something that develops during our lifetime,” explains Anna-Maija Tolppanen, the study’s lead author. This study is the latest in a long list of scientific evidence that shows how beneficial to have an optimistic outlook on life.

The Intelligent Optimist: Is personality an intrinsic characteristic, or can cynics change their personality to be healthier and prevent dementia?

Anna-Maija Tolppanen: It is tempting to hypothesize that attitudes/personality traits such as cynicism are modifiable and changing one’s personality may result in better health. However, this is the first study showing the connection between cynicism and brain health so we do need to confirm the connection in other studies. If this is confirmed, we need to find out how our personality affects the brain (i.e. whether it is cynicism itself that is hurtful) and whether changes in attitude, in addition to healthy lifestyle with physical and social activity and balanced diet, can result in better health.  

TIO: If cynics tend to be heavier and smoke more, is it possible that cynicism is a by-product of an unhealthy lifestyle, and not a core characteristic people are born with?

AT: Yes, this is precisely what we thought. These cardiovascular risk factors have explained the connection to cardiovascular diseases in some previous studies. However, they (or other cardiovascular risk factors, general health status, depression symptoms or socioeconomic background) did not explain the connection with dementia in our study. I also think that we are not born cynical, but our personality is something that develops during our lifetime. | Read the rest of the interview on theoptimist.com

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Cynical distrust can lead to dementia, study shows

A new study from University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio has found that cynical distrust– thinking that people’s actions are motivated by selfish means, could cause dementia later in life. “We are not born cynical, but our personality is something that develops during our lifetime,” explains Anna-Maija Tolppanen, the study’s lead author. This study is the latest in a long list of scientific evidence that shows how beneficial to have an optimistic outlook on life.

The Intelligent Optimist: Is personality an intrinsic characteristic, or can cynics change their personality to be healthier and prevent dementia?

Anna-Maija Tolppanen: It is tempting to hypothesize that attitudes/personality traits such as cynicism are modifiable and changing one’s personality may result in better health. However, this is the first study showing the connection between cynicism and brain health so we do need to confirm the connection in other studies. If this is confirmed, we need to find out how our personality affects the brain (i.e. whether it is cynicism itself that is hurtful) and whether changes in attitude, in addition to healthy lifestyle with physical and social activity and balanced diet, can result in better health.  

TIO: If cynics tend to be heavier and smoke more, is it possible that cynicism is a by-product of an unhealthy lifestyle, and not a core characteristic people are born with?

AT: Yes, this is precisely what we thought. These cardiovascular risk factors have explained the connection to cardiovascular diseases in some previous studies. However, they (or other cardiovascular risk factors, general health status, depression symptoms or socioeconomic background) did not explain the connection with dementia in our study. I also think that we are not born cynical, but our personality is something that develops during our lifetime. | Read the rest of the interview on theoptimist.com

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