Even people adament that they are not control freaks can benefit from having control over their lives. In 1976, Ellen Langer and Judy Rodin did a study on the effects of residents in a care home having control over their lives. The group that were given choices such as to rearrange furniture, care for a plant, and to decide what night to watch a film were more alert, active and reported a higher sense of wellbeing (physical and mental) than the control group that were not given such control. The big impact was on mortality; 18 months later, twice as many people in the control group had died.
The concept of "learned helplessness" that is so well documented in other mammels has been seen in humans too.The absence of hope does shorten lives!
Sadly, Langer has since reported that little has changed in carehomes since she published the study. The mentality of CURE rather than CARE has caused society to overlook these simple interventions.
Listen to the full BBC Radio 4 programme here.