It’s bad for your health to be suspicious of others — trust us!
Cynical people are more likely to suffer from heart disease because the mindset triggers stress — making them more vulnerable to the condition, according to a new study.
“These findings reveal that a greater tendency to engage in cynical hostility — which appears to be extremely relevant in today’s political and health climate — can be harmful not only for our short-term stress responses but also our long-term health,” the study’s lead author, Alexandra Tyra, said in a press release.
Researchers from Baylor University in Texas gave 196 participants a personality test, along with a 20-item “hostility survey” with true-or-false statements such as “people often disappoint me,” according to the study, published in the journal Psychophysiology.
The subjects were then asked to endure a series of “stress tests” while researchers measured their “hostility levels” during a seven-week period.
In one test, for example, participants were accused of shoplifting and given five minutes to prepare a speech defending themselves, as researchers took their heart rate and blood pressure levels.
Overall, researchers discovered that people who exhibited cynical traits struggled more to manage their stress levels — which then often results in obesity, smoking and high cholesterol.
“Our study demonstrates a higher tendency for cynical hostility may prevent or inhibit this decrease in response over time….This is unhealthy because it places increased strain on our cardiovascular system,” said Tyra, a doctoral candidate in psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University.
For the study, researchers described “cynical hostility” as a cognitive belief that “other people’s motives [or] intentions” aren’t trustworthy.
“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,” Tyra said.