Article

Optimism, Pessimism, and Motivation: Relations to Adjustment

Social and Personality Psychology Compass 06/2009; 3(4):494 - 506. DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00190.x

ABSTRACT

The present work reviews the literature examining connections involving the key constructs of optimism and pessimism with motivation and adjustment. We review historical and conceptual models of optimism and pessimism. We then examine how these central constructs have been linked to both adaptive and maladaptive motivational processes and outcomes in the empirical literature. How cultural factors may impact the function of optimism and pessimism is also discussed. We end with a brief discussion of emerging issues that would be useful to examine in future research on optimism and pessimism.

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    • "Optimists are, for example, more likely than pessimists to continue gambling after having lost money, perhaps as a result of their tendency to perceive losses as " near wins " (Gibson and Sanbonmatsu, 2004). As described above, research describing the costs of unmitigated and unrealistic optimism has started to accumulate, suggesting that being optimistic beyond reason may lead to poor outcomes in various domains such as health and business (Chang et al., 2009). More research on the value and costs of unrealistic optimism is needed, as a few conflicting findings suggest that unrealistic optimism may sometimes be helpful, especially if it promotes increased persistence and efforts for ambitious goals (Zhang and Fishbach, 2010). "
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    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Pratiques Psychologiques
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    Article: Optimism
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    Article: Optimism
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    ABSTRACT: Optimism is an individual difference variable that reflects the extent to which people hold generalized favorable expectancies for their future. Higher levels of optimism have been related prospectively to better subjective well-being in times of adversity or difficulty (i.e., controlling for previous well-being). Consistent with such findings, optimism has been linked to higher levels of engagement coping and lower levels of avoidance, or disengagement, coping. There is evidence that optimism is associated with taking proactive steps to protect one's health, whereas pessimism is associated with health-damaging behaviors. Consistent with such findings, optimism is also related to indicators of better physical health. The energetic, task-focused approach that optimists take to goals also relates to benefits in the socioeconomic world. Some evidence suggests that optimism relates to more persistence in educational efforts and to higher later income. Optimists also appear to fare better than pessimists in relationships. Although there are instances in which optimism fails to convey an advantage, and instances in which it may convey a disadvantage, those instances are relatively rare. In sum, the behavioral patterns of optimists appear to provide models of living for others to learn from.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2010 · Clinical psychology review
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