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Here’s a heart-health reason to turn that frown upside-down: A new study out of Baylor University found that people with cynical personalities are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
Cynical people are characterized as those who believe others are motivated purely by self-interest rather than by acting for honorable or unselfish reasons: a negative world view where no one can be trusted and everyone is out for—and can only depend on—themselves.
“Cynical hostility is more cognitive, consisting of negative beliefs, thoughts and attitudes about other people’s motives, intentions and trustworthiness,” said study lead author Alexandra T. Tyra, a doctoral candidate in psychology and neuroscience at Baylor. “It can be considered suspiciousness, lack of trust, or cynical beliefs about others.”
That psychological negativity is physically hurting cynics, according to Tyra and other researchers. As published in the journal Psychophysiology, researchers measured 196 study participants’ heart rates and blood pressure when giving a speech and doing a math problem; participants also completed a survey measuring their temperament, including degrees of hostility representing an individual’s disposition toward cynicism and chronic hate. Those whose temperament survey reflected greater “cognitive hostility”—i.e., cynicism—had cardiovascular systems that went into “fight or flight” overdrive when faced with the two tasks.
“These results identify a potential pathway through which hostility, particularly cynicism, contributes to disease risk,” the study authors concluded.
“I would hope that this research raises awareness about the potential health implications of cynicism,” added Tyra. “Perhaps the next time someone thinks a negative thought about the motives, intentions, or trustworthiness of their best friend, a co-worker, or even a politician, they will think twice about actively engaging with that thought.”
The numerous medical and mental-health professionals licensed by Department of Consumer Affairs’ boards and bureaus can help you reduce negativity and stress while living a healthier life; to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.