If you want to stay sane and not become forgetful in later life, keep calm and relax. A new study has revealed that young adults who are hostile or cope badly with stress are more likely to experience memory and thinking problems decades later.
The study found that people with the highest levels of hostile attitude and poor coping skill traits performed significantly worse on tests of thinking and memory skills 25 years later than people with the lowest levels of the traits.
“We may not think of our personality traits as having any bearing on how well we think or remember things, but we found that the effect of having a hostile attitude and poor coping skills on thinking ability was similar to the effect of more than a decade of aging,” said study author Lenore J. Launer from the American Academy of Neurology in the US. The study, paper published in the online issue of journal Neurology, included 3,126 participants with the average age of 25.
For the analysis, participants were divided into four groups based on their level of hostility and effortful coping, and asked questions that measured their personalities and attitudes, and ability to cope with stress, memory and thinking abilities.
Cognitive abilities were measured again when they were at an average age of 50.
To measure hostility, the questions about personality assessed aggressive behaviour, a lack of trust for others and negative feelings associated with social relationships. Another question looked at effortful coping, which was defined as actively trying to reduce stress despite repeated barriers to success.
The results showed that when people were asked to recall a list of 15 words, people with the most hostility in young adulthood remembered 0.16 fewer words in mid-life than people with the least hostility.
Those with the highest level of effortful coping remembered up to 0.30 fewer words than those with the lowest level of effortful coping.
“The study is observational. It does not prove that hostile attitudes and poor coping skills cause memory and thinking impairment; it only shows the association,” Launer noted.