Study: People May Be Able to Predict Their Own Health

Woman holding tissue to her nose outsidePeople may be the best forecasters of their own health, a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine suggests. Even without obvious signs of poor health, the study asserts people can assess their own immunity and predict whether or not they will develop a cold.

Can People Predict Immune Response?

To assess how health predictions might provide useful health information, researchers recruited 360 adults ages 18 to 55. All were in good health with an average age of 33. Each participant was asked to rank his or her health as excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. None said they were in poor health, and just 2% reported their health as fair. Researchers say this was expected because they specifically targeted healthy people.

After participants rated their health, they were exposed to a common cold virus. About a third of participants developed a cold. Those who rated their health as fair, good, or very good were twice more likely to develop a cold than those who said they were in excellent health.

The Role of Subtle Changes in Health

Researchers say social and emotional factors did not predict who got a cold and who did not. Likewise, there was no clear correlation between the common cold and health practices such as exercise.

The study’s authors say their results point to the ways subtle health changes can affect health assessments. It may be that subtle changes in body sensations signal that something is wrong even before symptoms appear. While more research is necessary to test this theory, this study suggests people might be able to predict how their immune systems will respond to viruses and other health risks.


Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., & Doyle, W. J. (2015). Self-rated health in healthy adults and susceptibility to the common cold. Psychosomatic Medicine, 1. doi:10.1097/psy.0000000000000232

© Copyright 2015 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Ariel


    November 11th, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    I find that in many ways we are much more intuitive than what we may give ourselves credit for. The problem is that very few of us are actually willing to listen to what our bodies are telling u because it is either scary or inconvenient or whatever.

  • Vale


    November 12th, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    Sometimes you just no- no matter what actions that you take to prevent it it is going to hit you and hit you hard.

  • Cara


    November 16th, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    They say this about our pets too, that they know things and can sense that there is something wrong in their humans even before we know it.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.