Feeling Out of Control? Getting a Grip on Life Increases Longevity

First Posted: Feb 04, 2014 04:51 PM EST

Throughout every day life, it might not always be easy to feel in complete control of your surroundings-whether it comes to financial success or your family's happiness. Yet a recent study shows that the more we try to tame these demons, the easier it is to live longer, healthier and happier lives. If not, it could increase the risk of mortality due to various health issues.

Researchers from Brandais University and the University of Rochester found that for those with less education in particular, those who were able to meet their goals and endure less hardships often lived longer lives.

To further examine findings of why those with less education may be at a greater risk for mortality in some cases, researchers found that regardless of education, those who perceived themselves in higher control of life had a mortality rate that was three times lower than those with a lower sense of control. In fact, they found a high sense of control even negated mortality risks in those with less education.

"A high sense of control all but wipes out educational differences when it comes to mortality," said Margie Lachman, the Minnie and Harold Fierman Professor of Psychology, and an author on the paper, via a press release. "A person with less education but a high sense of control is practically indistinguishable from a person of high education."

To determine attitudes regarding perceived control, researchers asked participants to rank agreements to a set of statements. According to the release, an example went something like "Sometimes I feel I am being pushed around in my life," and asked to rank their agreement from one (strongly disagree) to seven (strongly agree)."

Lachman notes that the studies implications are very promising regarding future health possibilities.

"There are methods and strategies for improving one's sense of control, and educational experiences are one of them. We could implement those approaches in educational and public health programs aimed at increasing health-promoting attitudes and behaviors and ultimately lowering mortality risks."

More information regarding the study can be found via the journal Health Psychology

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