People who learn to maintain an optimistic attitude may not only avoid depression, they may actually improve their physical health, according to a controlled study by the University of Pennsylvania's Martin Seligman, Ph.D., and Gregory Buchanan, Ph.D.
The study shows that university freshmen who participated in a workshop on cognitive coping skills reported fewer adverse physical problems and took a more active role in maintaining their health.
In the study, incoming freshmen were asked to complete a questionnaire designed to reflect their overall attitudes and coping behaviors.
Seligman and Buchanan invited those students identified as the most pessimistic to participate in the study. Students were randomly assigned to attend either the 16-hour workshop or a control group.
Workshop participants learned to dispute their chronic negative thoughts as well as learned social and work skills that can help avert depression.