Does buying a house accelerate ageing?

Posted on December 22, 2011


Dateline: 4 November 2011 // Posted by: Kerry McCarthy
Source: Huffington Post UK

Story: “The Stress of House Buying Can Age You by Two Years”

Summary: The article “The Stress of House Buying Can Age You by Two Years” is located in the health section of The Huffington Post UK. This article claims that after a study was done by conveyancing law firm In-Deed, researchers found that the overwhelming amount of stress that occurs when buying or selling a house can be cause premature aging, making the individual physically look or feel two years older. Psychologists preformed a study on 2,000 participants and found that after a 15 week moving period, participants experienced age related symptoms. These symptoms included hair loss, short-term memory loss, and lack of sex drive and general anxiety associated with moving a house. One psychologist who worked on the study, Dr. Glenn Wilson, was quoted saying that the process of selling or buying a house can create a period in which one experiences a high amount of stress and anxiety. She goes on further to say that this type of strain is likely to cause depression, weight loss and even premature ageing.

Why is this PseudoNews? This article lacks a major scientific basis which makes the article scientifically questionable. Throughout the article, never does it state that the research was published in a respectable scientific journal. If the research wasn’t in fact published in a journal then it was not peer reviewed and the research is not accredited. Because the article fails to mention whether the research was peer-reviewed it makes one wonder if the research was conducted in a scientific and empirical fashion.

As readers, we lack the knowledge about how the research was collected, the age range or the status of health of the individuals who were moving their houses. The article does claim that among the people who suffered symptoms associated with moving their house 10% suffered from hair loss, 14% short-term memory loss and 19% admitted to lack of sex drive and general anxiety. These statistics do not hold merit because the article is scientifically questionable.

What features of pseudoscience are on show? The article presents many aspects of a pseudoscience. It avoids falsifiability by not offering other articles that corroborate their claim. Other articles would have established that their basis had some truth to it. They also do not provide the reader with information about where the research was conducted and where it can be cited in a scientific journal so it leaves the research without any supporting evidence. Instead of confirming their claim they make the reader search for evidence to prove them wrong which is reversing the burden of proof.

The article also offers statistics but it doesn’t say how the research was collected which leaves vagueness in their measurement techniques. The percentages were also fairly low. This makes one think that they presented the information because those statistic are consistent with the outcome that they wanted and they confirm their claim thus exhibiting confirmation bias.

The moral of the story: From this article, one can conclude that the claim that the stress of house-buying can age you by two years holds very little merit scientifically.