Being a good person is better for your health! People with ‘good moral character’ less likely to suffer from heart disease, depression or anxiety, study finds
- A new study found that a more moral character can reduce the risk of depression by 50%.
- Harvard researchers also found that people who score high on many factors related to moral character also have a reduced risk of heart disease.
- Study finds people who were more willing to delay gratification were less likely to suffer from anxiety
Being a better person can improve a person’s mental and physical health, a new study has found.
Researchers at Harvard University found that people who listed character and personality traits consistent with “good moral character” were up to 50 percent less likely to suffer from depression.
They also found significant changes in the risks of developing heart disease based on a person’s moral standards, and those who are more willing to delay gratification in their daily lives will experience less anxiety.
The research team hopes that these findings will reinforce the innate human desire to be a good person, as it now has tangible health benefits.
Being a person of “good moral character” can reduce a person’s risk of suffering from depression, anxiety or heart disease, a new study has found (file photo)
“Our findings show that people who live their lives in accordance with high moral standards are significantly less likely to experience depression,” Harvard researcher Dr. Dorata Weziak-Bialowolska said in a statement.
“They also suggest that delayed gratification preferences may have some potential to be relevant to reducing the risk of anxiety, and using moral character strengths to help others may be beneficial to one’s physical health.”
The researchers, who published their findings in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, collected survey data and health insurance claims data from 1,209 study participants.
Each completed surveys in 2018 and 2019 that assess how they relate to a particular set of statements.
To assess their “moral compass,” they were asked whether they felt they always knew what to do.
They were asked questions such as “I am willing to face difficulties to do what is right” and “I give up personal gratification whenever some good can be done instead.”
Other questions measured their personal strength, kindness, and how willing they were to delay gratification for longer-term benefits.
The study population tested higher in every metric in 2019 than in 2018.
They found that people who tested high on their moral compass were up to 50 percent less likely to suffer from depression.
The researchers also found a clear correlation between anxiety levels and how much a person was willing to delay happiness now in order to have a more positive outcome in the future.
People who scored higher across metrics were also less likely to have heart disease, depending on how they scored.
“We know that character strengths are positive personality traits that are central to a person’s identity, contribute to the greater good, and play a beneficial role in promoting well-being and positive health,” Weziak-Bialowolska said.
Although this is only early research, the team of experts hopes it means people will be rewarded for good deeds.
“However, because these positive personality traits align with the nearly universal human desire to become a better person and are malleable, public health policies that promote them are likely to be positively received by the general public,” added Weziak-Bialovolska .