Most people are aware that there are many benefits to a positive attitude. Studies consistently link positive thoughts and positive emotions to everything from better performance to a longer life.

But, if you're a cynic, there's a good chance you'll roll your eyes at such studies. After all, anyone who conducts research on positive thinking is probably going to find positive results, right?

And, as a 'glass half-empty' kind of person, you might be thinking, "Who cares if a positive attitude will help me live a longer. I'm likely to get run over by a bus long before I grow old anyway."

But, before you conclude your cynicism doesn't really matter in the long-run, consider this--a bad attitude could be costing you money right now.

The Link Between Attitude and Income

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examined the link between cynicism and income. The authors, who defined cynicism as the belief that most people are egoistic, deceitful, and evil as opposed to good, honest, and trustworthy, discovered cynical people make less money.

After evaluating income levels and attitudes of people from all around the globe, researchers found that cynical people earn an average of $300 per month less than their more positive counterparts.

The authors developed several theories about why a negative attitude could lead to lower income:

  • Cynical people are less willing to trust others. Consequently, they may refuse to cooperate.
  • They are suspicious of other people's motives, which could make them less likely to collaborate or network.
  • They may refuse to ask for assistance when they need it because they don't trust that anyone would genuinely help them.

Those behaviors may decrease an individual's chances of being promoted or landing a new job.

Cynicism Does Help In One Instance

Researchers discovered there was one exception to the rule. When people lived in areas where antisocial behavior was rampant--like neighborhoods with a high homicide rate--cynicism didn't interfere with economic achievement.

In high-crime areas, a skeptical outlook helps people avoid trusting the wrong person. And in many cases, distrust actually aids in self-preservation.

Cynicism Harms More Than Just Your Wallet

Cynicism has harmful effects beyond income. Researchers have linked cynicism to several negative consequences.

  • A 2009 study found cynicism places women at a greater risk of developing heart disease.
  • A 2010 study linked cynicism to increased inflammation in the body, which can lead to a host of health problems.
  • A 2014 study concluded cynical people are a higher risk of developing dementia.

Adjust Your Attitude

If you suspect cynicism is holding you back in life, there are some things you can do to change your attitude. That may mean healing some past wounds or deliberately practicing gratitude so you can develop a brighter outlook on the world and the people in it.

Published on: Dec 5, 2016