Can your attitude (a positive outlook, optimism, "fighting spirit" etc, or the converse) influence how well your immune system works? Most research that confirm mood correlating with immune system seem to show it for stress, which is a physiological change in you body, something completely different.

But being optimistic, in itself, could that possibly influence you immune system?

Example of the claim: LiveScience.com: Optimism Boosts Immune System. The usage of "boost" in combination with "immune system" is enough to raise some flags.

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    Related question: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/42/…
    – Mad Scientist
    Nov 18, 2012 at 19:46
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    An interesting piece I read some time ago... kind of related struckbyenlightning.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/positive-thinking
    – nico
    Nov 18, 2012 at 23:20
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    Seems highly related to the placebo effect.
    – Kaz Dragon
    Nov 19, 2012 at 8:45
  • I don't have the book on me ATM but this is asserted in the book Learned Optimism ( amzn.to/UevEr6 ) by Martin Seligman, PhD. The book references several studies done to prove this point. I know it's not enough for a complete answer (thus the comment) but it's worth checking out! Nov 21, 2012 at 7:42
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    We have established earlier that stress weakens the immune system. You could argue that negativity leads to stress, or that good thoughts reduce stress, which can be seen as "boosting" the immune system - even if from a weakened state back to something more normal. Sorry, no sources to cite on this reasoning.
    – RomanSt
    Jan 10, 2013 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


Psychoneuroimmunology is the research field relevant for your question, where research indicates that the feeling of optimism is good for work success, financial success, and good health.

Optimism and the Immune System give you an overview of the subject.

Optimism and immunity: Do positive thoughts always lead to positive effects? says that "empirical evidence suggests that [the effects of dispositional optimism] is more likely to be a consequence of optimists’ greater engagement during difficult stressors".

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    Can you quote the relevant parts from the articles? That and complete you answer it's unfinished as it is now. Avoid saying "You may also want to read" in an answer, or "You should easily find..". An answer should be as complete as possible!
    – Wertilq
    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:36

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