*New York Times*: 6/19/2007
Hostile Outlook May Affect Breathing, Research Shows
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Having a hostile attitude may affect your breathing, a new study reports.
Using a sample of 4,629 healthy adults ages 18 to 30, researchers
determined hostility using a 50-item questionnaire and then administered
breathing tests to record objective measures of breathing efficiency and
lung capacity. The study appears in the May issue of Health Psychology.
After controlling for age, height, socioeconomic status, smoking and
asthma, high scores on the hostility test were consistently associated
with low scores on the measures of lung function in black men and women
and in white women. The more hostile the person was, the more lung
function declined. For each one-fifth increase in scores on the
hostility questionnaire, there was a corresponding decrease in scores on
the breathing tests. The association was not statistically significant
in white men.
The reasons for the link are unclear. The researchers did not examine
environmental influences on lung function other than smoking, so it may
be that some unknown environmental factors lead to both poor lung
function and increased hostility, or even that poor lung function causes
“This is suggestive,” said Dr. Benita Jackson, the lead author and an
assistant professor of psychology at Smith College, “but we don’t know
for certain that hostility causes lung function decline. That’s where
more research is needed.
“The good news here is that unlike other exposures, like air pollution
or genetic predisposition, hostility is something that can be changed.”