Being your own biggest fan could pay off for your longevity, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Rochester, the German Institute for Economic Research and Brandeis University found that people who are more self-determined and feel more in control of their lives are also more likely to live longer, compared with people who believe that they're helpless to life's twists and turns.
Plus, this effect seemed especially true for people with low education levels -- and negates the effect low education seems to have on mortality, researchers noted.
"A high sense of control all but wipes out educational differences when it comes to mortality," study researcher Margie Lachman, a professor of psychology at Brandeis University, said in a statement. "A person with less education but a high sense of control is practically indistinguishable from a person of high education."
The new study, published in the journal Health Psychology, included 6,135 people ages 25 to 75 who were part of the Midlife in the United States study. Researchers followed them for 14 years to see if there was an association between death risk and feeling in control over their lives.
While researchers did not find an association between control beliefs and decreased risk of dying over the study period in people with high education levels, there was an association between the two for people with low education levels. This association held true even after taking into account other potential factors, including depression, disease and health behaviors.
"There are methods and strategies for improving one's sense of control, and educational experiences are one of them," Lachman added. "We could implement those approaches in educational and public health programs aimed at increasing health-promoting attitudes and behaviors and ultimately lowering mortality risks."
Feeling in control, at least in the workplace, can also pay off in terms of happiness. A recent study in the journal PLOS ONE showed that people who feel like they have control at work and a good emotional support system report higher levels of well-being.
And for older people, having a good attitude about aging could actually help you to live longer, according to a Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study.