Do you prize your self on individual initiative or do you feel like the events in your life are outside your control and you just have to react? Do you think there needs to be more rules and regulations to manage things for you, or would you rather make it on your own?

An article in Health Psychology finds that how you view your life can affect your risk of mortality; people who believe they can achieve goals despite hardships are more likely to live longer and healthier lives, especially among those with less education.


People with a high school diploma or less tend to die younger than those with a college degree or graduate training. But why? In the new paper, it was not the case, one group of less educated people had a mortality rate three times lower than others - but they had highe perceived control and felt like life was what they made of it. 

"A high sense of control all but wipes out educational differences when it comes to mortality," says  co-author Margie Lachman, Professor of Psychology at Brandeis University. "A person with less education but a high sense of control is practically indistinguishable from a person of high education."

Researchers determined attitudes about perceived control by asking participants to rank agreement to a set of statements. For example, participants were given the statement, "Sometimes I feel I am being pushed around in my life," and asked to rank their agreement from one (strongly disagree) to seven (strongly agree).

What does that mean? 

"There are methods and strategies for improving one's sense of control, and educational experiences are one of them," Lachman says. "We could implement those approaches in educational and public health programs aimed at increasing health-promoting attitudes and behaviors and ultimately lowering mortality risks."