Here’s more proof that thinking negatively can actually produce negative health effects. It seems that everything begins with your mind. This newly discovered link has to do with your ability to hear. Researchers out of Yale University have proven that older adults who think negatively about aging will experience a more rapid decline in their hearing — it’s kind of like punishment from your body for not remaining positive.
The researchers looked at both men and women between the ages of 70 and 96. Those who conformed to the stereotype that many older individuals are frail or senile physically showed declined hearing during the three years that the study was being conducted.
The researchers did take into account other factors, but even with those factors being out of the picture, the stereotypical belief proved to be an independent risk factor for hearing loss — even, incredibly, among people who had “perfect” scores at the beginning of the study.
What does this mean, exactly? Well, for one, it suggests that stereotypes about age and its ill-health effects can actually bring on said effects — when they have to do with the senses. The mind is inextricably linked to all senses — taste, sight, touch, hearing, smell — so when a person thinks negatively about their state of being, they can injure their sensory perception. These findings come from a group of researchers, which were published in the Journal of Gerontology.
One way stereotypes influence hearing is through stress — the word that never ceases to pop up constantly in study after study.
Having these stereotypes in your mind generates stress in the body, which goes on to impact hearing. That’s one hypothesis. Another is that having these ideas about aging creates expectations about physical problems. So when symptoms appear, people believe that they are natural and essentially “inevitable.” Therefore they are less likely to bother seeking out medical treatment or consulting with a doctor for options that could solve the problem.
In all, there were about 550 people involved in the three- year study. Researchers discovered these aging stereotypes by asking each person to name five phrases that could define an older individual. From there, they could easily dissect which were rooted in negativity (“feeble”) and which weren’t (“dresses well”). Those who listed more negative phrases had significantly worse hearing loss in the following three years.
Pessimism plays a role in health and this study helps confirm what some believe to be pure speculation. But is it? Could the simple act of thinking positively lead to better health and an improved quality of life? It’s up to you to decide if you are willing to improve your attitude to help improve your hearing health.