The Whole World Is Optimistic, Survey Finds

There is no clear-cut answer yet on whether being upbeat can keep you healthy or cure anything. But there is evidence suggesting a connection.

Despite current economic woes, a new study based on global survey data finds optimism to be universal. Sunny outlooks are most prevalent in Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, and New Zealand.

The United States ranks No. 10.

Nearly 90 percent of people around the globe expect the next five years to be as good or better than life today, the study found. And 95 percent expect their life in five years to be as good or better than it was five years ago.

The study, from the University of Kansas and Gallup, suggests humans are optimistic by nature, the researchers conclude.

"These results provide compelling evidence that optimism is a universal phenomenon," said Matthew Gallagher, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas and lead researcher of the study.

The results are not entirely surprising. Past studies have found optimism to be a common human trait. People tend to expect to live longer and be more successful than average, and underestimate their chances of getting divorced, for example.

Optimism tends to increase with age, another study found.

Optimism is good for you. A decade-long study published in 2004 found that those with brighter outlooks had a 55 percent lower risk of death during the study period.

Optimism is lowest in Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti and Bulgaria, the new survey found.

The results, based on survey data from 140 countries and more than 150,000 adults, will be presented today at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco.

Live Science Staff
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