Optimism Boosts Your Immune System
Optimism doesn’t just boost your mood. According to new research, a glass-half-full attitude also strengthens the immune system.
The study, which tracked changes in optimism and immune response among first-year law students, found that as students became more optimistic, they showed stronger cell-mediated immunity, the flood of immune cells that respond to an invasion by foreign viruses or bacteria. When optimism dropped, so did cell-mediated immunity, LiveScience reported.
To probe the connection, Segerstrom recruited 124 incoming law students and had them complete five questionnaires and immunity checks over the course of a year. The questionnaires measured students’ optimism by asking how closely they identified with statements like “I will be less successful than most of my classmates.”
To test immunity, the students had a dose of dead mumps virus or candida yeast injected under the skin of the forearm. These harmless cocktails trigger a cellular immune response, resulting in a small bump at the injection site. By measuring the bump, researchers can estimate the strength of the immune response.
As the students experienced classes, exams and internship interviews, their optimism levels rose and fell. So did their cell-mediated immunity. When optimism went up, so did the cell-mediated immune response.