Write a Funny Autobiography and Live 6 Years Longer!


Objective: This study examined whether specific types of positive and negative emotional words used in the autobiographies of well-known deceased psychologists were associated with longevity. Methods: For each of the 88 psychologists, the percent of emotional words used in writing was calculated and categorized by valence (positive or negative) and arousal (activated [e.g., lively, anxious] or not activated [e.g., calm, drowsy]) based on existing emotion scales and models of emotion categorization.

Okay. So we start with the written autobiographies of 88 well-known, but now deceased, psychologists. Analyze the kind of words they use. Relate that to life span.

What words? Consider the humor list.

Chuckle, laugh, funny, humor, giggle, hilarious, fun, hilarity, jolly, silly.

Thus, just count how often the writer used these 10 words, then correlate with longevity. And what do you get?

. . . use of these words was associated with increased longevity, accounted for 8% of its variance, and amounted to a 6-year advantage for humor word users.

Humor in your life is no joke. Live funny, live long.

Old Henry wasn’t feeling well so Maud, his wife, took him to see the doctor. After the exam, the doc pulled Maud aside and told her that Old Henry wasn’t doing well, but if he had sex five times a week, he’d be okay. On the drive home, Henry asked Maud what the doctor said.

“Henry . . . you’re going to die.”

Rimshot. Be here all week.

Pressman, S. D., & Cohen, S. (2012). Positive emotion word use and longevity in famous deceased psychologists. Health Psychology, 31(3), 297-305.