Mayo Clinic Proceedings Home
MCP Digital Health Home

Prediction of All-Cause Mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale Scores: Study of a College Sample During a 40-Year Follow-up Period


      To examine a measure of explanatory style, the Optimism-Pessimism (PSM) scale derived from college-entry Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory scores, as a predictor of all-cause mortality.


      A total of 7007 students entering the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory during the mid-1960s. Of those students, 6958 had scores on the PSM scale and data for all-cause mortality through 2006. Scores on the PSM scale were evaluated as predictors of mortality using the Cox proportional hazards regression model, adjusted for sex. During the 40-year follow-up period, 476 deaths occurred.


      Pessimistic individuals who scored in the upper tertile of the distribution had decreased rates of longevity (hazard ratio, 1.42; 95% confidence interval, 1.13-1.77) compared with optimistic individuals who scored in the bottom tertile of the distribution.


      In a model that adjusted only for sex, a measure of optimistic vs pessimistic explanatory style was a significant predictor of survival during a 40-year follow-up period such that optimists had increased longevity.
      CI (confidence interval), HR (hazard ratio), MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), PSM (Optimism-Pessimism), UNCAHS (University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study)
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Mayo Clinic Proceedings
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Smith TW
        • Gallo LC
        Personality traits as risk factors for physical illness.
        in: Baum A Revenson TA Singer JE Handbook of Health Psychology. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ2001: 139-172
        • Colligan RC
        • Offord KP
        • Malinchoc M
        • Schulman P
        • Seligman ME
        CAVEing the MMPI for an Optimism-Pessimism scale: Seligman's attributional model and the assessment of explanatory style.
        J Clin Psychol. 1994; 50: 71-95
        • Malinchoc M
        • Offord KP
        • Colligan RC
        PSM-R: Revised Optimism-Pessimism scale for the MMPI-2 and MMPI.
        J Clin Psychol. 1995; 51: 205-214
        • Seligman ME
        • Abramson LY
        • Semmel A
        • von Baeyer C
        Depressive attributional style.
        J Abnorm Psychol. 1979; 88: 242-247
        • Peterson C
        • Seligman ME
        • Vaillant GE
        Pessimistic explanatory style is a risk factor for physical illness: a thirty-five-year longitudinal study.
        J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988; 55: 23-27
        • Peterson C
        Explanatory style as a risk factor for illness.
        Cognit Ther Res. 1988; 12: 119-132
        • Maruta T
        • Colligan RC
        • Malinchoc M
        • Offord KP
        Optimism-pessimism assessed in the 1960s and self-reported health status 30 years later.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2002; 77: 748-753
        • Maruta T
        • Colligan RC
        • Malinchoc M
        • Offord KP
        Optimists vs pessimists: survival rate among medical patients over a 30-year period.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2000; 75: 140-143
        • Siegler IC
        • Peterson BL
        • Barefoot JC
        • et al.
        Using college alumni populations in epidemologic research: the UNC Alumni Heart Study.
        J Clin Epidemiol. 1992; 45: 1243-1250
        • Peterson C
        • Bettes BA
        • Seligman ME
        Depressive symptoms and unprompted causal attributions: content analysis.
        Behav Res Ther. 1985; 23: 379-382
        • Harrell FE
        Regression Modeling Strategies: With Applications to Linear Models, Logistic Regression, and Survival Analysis. Springer, New York, NY2001
        • Wulsin LR
        • Vaillant GE
        • Wells VE
        A systematic review of the mortality of depression.
        Psychosom Med. 1999; 61: 6-17
      1. Wulsin L. A review of the evidence for a dose response relationship between depression and coronary disease. In: Program and abstracts of the American Psychosomatic Society 59th Annual Scientific Meeting; Monterey, Calif; March 7-10, 2001. Abstract 1201.

        • Murray CJL
        • Lopez AD
        The Global Burden of Disease: A Comprehensive Assessment of Mortality and Disability From Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors in 1990 and Projected to 2020. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass1996