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Ground breaking research into the effects of positive thinking on health published in prestigious journal

20 Sep 2017

Ground breaking research into the effects of positive thinking on the recovery of seriously ill patients has been published in the prestigious UK based Journal of Consumer Research (JCR).

The research, detailed in a paper titled Cultivating optimism: How to frame your future during a health challenge, found positive thinking has the power to hasten the recovery of seriously ill patients and help disaster victims to overcome the psychological impact of a traumatic experience.

“People who are more optimistic about their recovery when they are ill are more likely to recover,” said researcher, Professor Donnel Briley. “They’re more likely to have positive mental health, and they’re more likely to have a range of positive physiological outcomes.”

The findings, which were published in JCR’s Autumn Journal titled Cultural Differences, also showed that the participant’s culture moderated this effect.

“We were interested in culture from the outset and we found some very interesting cultural differences,” said Professor Briley.

“In one studies involving cancer patients, we found that those of an East-Asian background were much more optimistic when they were thinking about the particular situations that they might face in the future while this bogged Anglos down,” he said. “Anglos were much more optimistic when they were thinking in the abstract, and not about specific situations.

The research team, which also included Stanford University’s Professor Jennifer Aaker and the University of Houston’s Assistant Professor Melanie Rudd, monitored levels of optimism in ill and traumatized people through a series of experiments and “different variables”, including asking participants how they felt about their futures, as well as monitoring physiological outcomes.

The paper can be accessed here.