Does Your Dementia Risk Increase If You Are Cynical and Distrusting?

Christine Kennard Health Pro
  • A study published in Neurology has found that people with high levels of cynical distrust--a belief that people are mainly motivated by selfishness--are more likely to develop dementia.


    A total of 1,449 people with an average age of 71 completed a questionnaire to measure their level of cynicism. Of those, 622 took two tests for dementia over an eight-year period and 46 people were actually diagnosed with dementia.  


    Once researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect dementia risk, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, people with high levels of cynical distrust were found to be three times more likely to develop dementia than people with low levels of cynicism. Of the 164 people with high levels of cynicism, 14 people developed dementia, compared to nine of the 212 people with low levels of cynicism. This is, apparently, the first study to look at cynical distrust personality traits and dementia. 

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    So, do you have high levels of cynical distrust? In this study cynicism levels were ascribed as either low, moderate or high. Try it yourself. To what extent do you agree with the following statements:  


    “I think most people would lie to get ahead.”


    “It is safer to trust nobody.”


    “Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it.”


    The more you find yourself agreeing with the statements, the higher your level of cynicism. They were only three examples and you do have to remember that this study is a small one so its findings are not conclusive. However, the belief that others are mainly motivated by selfish concerns is associated with hostility, which in turn has been associated with other health problems, such as heart disease. 


    Despite the attempts at controls, the big question is whether such an association really exists and, if it does, by what process would cynicism increase dementia risk?



    Late-life cynical distrust, risk of incident dementia, and mortality in a population-based cohort, Anna-Maija Tolppanen PhD et al.American Academy of Neurology,May 28, 2014.


Published On: June 04, 2014