People are generally optimists, until they hit old age - study

A new study of  75,000 people by the Michigan State University has discovered that people are optimistic about life, until they hit old age.
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A new study has discovered that people are optimistic about life, until they hit old age.

Researchers from Michigan State University conducted the largest study of its kind to try and determine how positive people are throughout their lives, and how life-changing events can affect their outlook on life.

The scientists surveyed 75,000 American, German and Dutch people, aged between 16 and 101, to measure optimism, and also recorded any events such as marriages, divorces, retirement, health issues or death of a family member.

Lead author William Chopik said that people remained positive, even those "with fairly bad circumstances", and it increases throughout young adulthood, but declines into old age.

"Most surprising, we found that really hard things like deaths and divorce really didn't change a person's outlook to the future," Chopik explained.

"This shows that a lot of people likely subscribe to the 'life is short' mantra and realise they should focus on things that make them happy and maintain emotional balance."

Positivity begins to wane at around age 60, but this is likely driven by health concerns.

"Retirement age is when people can stop working, have time to travel and to pursue their hobbies," Chopik added.

"But very surprisingly, people didn't really think that it would change the outlook of their lives for the better."

He said one of the most interesting conclusions from the study was how people can remain optimistic, despite life-changing events occurring.

"You don't fundamentally change as a result of terrible things; people diagnosed with an illness or those who go through another crisis still felt positive about the future and what life had ahead for them on the other side," he shared.

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