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The present study descriptive - correlational pretended to describe the relationship between dispositional optimism, psychosocial factors such as coping, spirituality and stressful life events in parents or family care-givers and teachers and sociodemographic factors such as age, education level, family composition, gender and socioeconomic status. The sample was formed by 319 high school students (male and female), between 12 and 18 years old; 138 parents and 19 teachers. It was used the Cuestionario de Optimismo Disposicional (Londono et al., 2013); the Coping Style Inventory (Archila & Londono, 2004), Stressful Life Events Scale (WHO); the Index of Spirituality and Wellness (Daaleman & Frey, 2004). The comparative and associative multivariate analysis showed that mixed coping in young people (social support, fantasy and self-blame) in addition to mixed coping in parents (problem solving and social support) predicted dispositional optimism in young people.
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Copyright 2014 by Sociedad Chilena de Psicología Clínica
ISSN 0716-6184 (impresa) · ISSN 0718-4808 (en línea)
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA
2014, Vol. 32, Nº 1, 41-46
What makes us optimistic? : Psychosocial factors as predictors of
dispositional optimism in young people
¿Qué nos hace optimistas?: Factores psicosociales predictores al optimismo disposicional
en jóvenes
Constanza Londoño Pérez
Marcela Velasco Salamanca
Ivonne Alejo Castañeda
Paula Botero Soto
Ivonne Joliet Vanegas
Universidad Católica de Colombia, Colombia
Rec ( ) Acept ( )
Abstract
The present study descriptive – correlational pretended to describe the relationship between dispositional
optimism, psychosocial factors such as coping, spirituality and stressful life events in parents or family care-
givers and teachers and sociodemographic factors such as age, education level, family composition, gender
and socioeconomic status. The sample was formed by 319 high school students (male and female), between
12 and 18 years old; 138 parents and 19 teachers. It was used the Cuestionario de OptimismoDisposicional
(Londoño et al., 2013); the Coping Style Inventory (Archila&Londoño, 2004), Stressful Life Events Scale
(WHO); the Index of Spirituality and Wellness (Daaleman& Frey, 2004). The comparative and associative
multivariate analysis showed that mixed coping in young people (social support, fantasy and self-blame) in
addition to mixed coping in parents (problem solving and social support) predicted dispositional optimism
in young people.
Keywords: Optimism, coping, young people.
Resumen
El presente estudio descriptivo correlacinal pretendía describir la relación entre optimismo disposicional y
factores psicosociales como afrontamiento, espiritualidad, acontecimientos vitales estresantes y optimismo
disposicional en padres o familiares acudientes y maestros; y con factores sociodemográcos (edad, nivel
educativo, conformación familiar, género y estrato). La muestra fue de 319 jóvenes, entre 12 y 18 años de
ambos géneros, 138 padres y 19 maestros. Se usaronel Cuestionario de Optimismo Disposicional (Londoño
et al., 2013), el Inventario de Estilos de Afrontamiento (Archila& Londoño, 2004), la Escala de Eventos
Vitales Estresantes de la OMS, el Índice de Espiritualidad y Bienestar (Daaleman& Frey, 2004). Los análisis
multivariantes comparativos y de asociación, evidenciaron que el afrontamiento mixto en jóvenes (búsqueda
de soporte social, fantasía y auto culpa); sumado al afrontamiento mixto en los padres (solución de problemas
y búsqueda de soporte social) predecían el optimismo disposicional en los jóvenes.
Palabras clave: optimismo, afrontamiento, jóvenes.
Correspondencia: Constanza Londoño Pérez, Avenida Caracas No. 46-40 Piso 1, dirección. clondono@ucatolica.edu.co
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Introduction
The optimism has been dened as the person tendency
to be motivated by beliefs about the desired results are
easily achievable. These statements have a positive effect
in psychological and physical health (Brannon &Feist,
2001; Gómez &Londoño, 2013; Londoño; 2009). Optimism
includes a positive vision about what people have and help
the individual satisfaction in terms of reaching the goals in a
short future with some program effort, if they have not been
reached yet (Marrero &Caballeira, 2010). Optimism has a
meaningful impact on perceived quality of life in ill people
and help to recover from illness events (Morales et al., 2011;
Ridder, Schreurs&Bensing, 2004; Scheier& Carver, 1985;
2014), because optimism enhances the individual capacity
to copy with general tension (Fournier, Ridder, &Besing,
2002; Gordon, Feldman, Crase,& Schoen, 2002; Kennedy &
Hughes, 2004; Ortiz, Ramos & Vera, 2003;Perera&Mcllven,
2014; Scheier, & Carver, 2014).
Therefore, optimism is a psychological resource to
enable individual coping the adverse situations (Remor,
Amorós&Carboles, 2006). For some authors, optimism
is a learned dimension of the personality, as a result of
the interaction between inheritance – environment; other
authors afrm optimism is a part of the genetic base of the
personality, expressed as a dispositional feature in the middle
of external situations and the individual interpretation of
them (Kim &Seidlitz, 2002; Seligman, 2005). This dilemma
justies the studies to recognize if the optimism is part of an
inherited structural base of the personality or a cognitive and
behavioral style learned through the interaction of several
psychosocial factors, as the social interaction.
Otherwise, there is a negative extremity called pessi-
mism in opposition to the optimistic view (Salas, 2008;
Seligman, 2005). The pessimistic style implies the vision
of external, nonpermanent and situational causes to explain
the negative events; also, a vision of internal, permanent
and generalized causes to different areas of the individuals
life (Remor et al., 2006).
Instead, dispositional optimism has generalized ex-
pectancies about success that lead the person action to get
great results, even the person shows willing to persist in the
adverse situation. The positive effects of the dispositional
optimism in health are considered in the self – regulation
theory, in terms of the individual with positive expectancies
about the future have more probability to make an effort to
reach their goals (Ridder et al., 2004 cited by Vera-Villarroel,
Córdova-Rubio &Celis-Atenas, 2009).
The positive effect of the dispositional optimism in health
has been widely studied (Ridder et al., 2004) and it has
showed the benecial impact in the physical wellbeing and
good health, as well as the effective recovery and adaption
to illness in chronic patients (Chico, 2002). In general, it
is well known that if people hold favorable expectancies
about their situation and increase their efforts to obtain great
results (Martínez-Correa, Reyesdel Paso, García-León &
González-Jareño, 2006;Remor, et al., 2006), they certainly
gain the best health outcomes.
The optimistic person is realistic in the situations and uses
his potential to solve the problem in an effective way. This
has been conrmed through the Parkinson, cardiometabolic
risk, arterial pressure, general physical functioning, disease
progression (Gison, Dall´armi, Donati, Rizza,&Guiaquinto,
2014; Oreskovic& Goodman, 2013; Senkus, Cardoso,
&Pagani, 2014). The people using optimism as a coping
resource with positive attitude to stressful circumstances
can have better levels of life. In this sense, Kennedy and
Hughes, (2004), Covey and Davis (2004) and Black and
Reynolds (2011) found that cognitive functioning in terms
of positive and optimistic style prevents depression and
anxiety, improves the physical and emotional functioning,
generates better adapting processes and tends to perceive
problems as preventable, adopting healthier styles of life.
Optimism comes up when the individual needs to
response to difcult situation with potential damage or
stressful events (Britton, Sliter, &Jex, 2012; Solis & Vidal,
2006; Taylor, 2007). There are some universal situations
related to stress reactions in most of the people; life events
viewed by people as stressful in terms of the interpretation
of the events as higher than the response capacity to coping
them. Depending on the age of the individual, the events
have the power of affect the psychological wellbeing and
can have dysfunctional effects in emotional, behavioral
and cognitive levels.
According to the optimistic curve along life, the parents
as adults tend to be more optimistic than younger people,
in terms of behaviors or actions to get positive results they
are waiting for. However, young people try to make actions
to relieve discomfort; usually they deny discomfort, take
emotional distance of the situation and avoid it in cognitive
and behavioral ways (Lench& Ditto, 2008). On the other
hand and regarding gender and sociodemographic aspects,
there are not differences in terms of optimism, except people
with more economic resources tend to be more pessimistic
about the future (Fischer & Chalmers, 2008; Londoño, 2009).
Stressful events are coping in different ways for people
and Lazarus and Folkman (1986) proposed coping styles
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What makes us optimistic? : psychosocial factors as predictors of dispositional optimism in young people
or ways of answer to internal or external demands; these
demands are view as excessive or challenging the personal
resources (Brannon &Feist, 2001;Taylor & Stanton 2007).
Coping process starts with individual assessment of an event
as stressful, with unpleasant and intense emotions. Coping
answers begin in an emotional context and often the rst task
in coping is related to regulate negative emotions that can
block instrumental actions of coping (Folkman&Moskowitz,
2004; Jaser et al., 2007; Patzelt& Shepherd, 2011).
In general, there are two general styles or coping types,
one of them is positive and oriented to solve the problem;
the individual leads efforts to carry out a plan designed to
resolve the stressful situation. The other one is negative or
focused on avoiding the stressful event, minimizing the
unpleasant emotion. Problem – focused coping implies a
view centered in the real change of the situation; the nega-
tive coping is oriented to change the emotion (Gordon et
al., 2002); in some cases the problem is left behind or the
solution is delayed temporary while the impact of event
is happening, in other cases, it is done in a stable way. No
entiendo en español a que se reere esta frase en azul.
However, there is no maladaptive coping style universally
(Compas, Connor-Smith, Saltzman, Thomsen, & Wadsworth,
2001), because a problem – focused coping can be useless
in a permanent event with no possibility of control and it is
better for the individual relieve the emotion to improve the
quality of life and manage the initial emotional response.
Some researchers have identied individual and stable
differences in coping, improving the ability to deal with
stressful events and leading to feel less discomfort and better
health outcomes. No entiendo la última frase en español en
relación con algunos investigadores.
These differences are due to the cognitive, behavioral
and emotional responses to the situations and no related
to variables such as age (Castro, 2002). What makes the
variation in the response to stress is related to personal com-
petences, social support and context (Glozah&Pevalin, 2014;
Sandín, 2002). Nevertheless, some authors have noticed the
tendency to avoiding coping in teenagers that is exacerbated
at the beginning of the youth and it is becoming stable in
the adulthood, depending on the behavioral options offered
by models and context. In the specic case of adults, the
coping style is stable but it is not invariable, because it is
not a xed element of personality, it is a process more than
a trait and the change is dene by the learning capacities of
the individual more than age, gender or economic condition.
Coping is also mediated by a group of positive beliefs
used to process the information in a way in which the adver-
sity is viewed as unstable, solvable and manageable, in this
scenario it is more probable the adjustment to the situation.
On the other hand, attributions related touncontrollability
and stability of the illness has been associated to avoiding
coping (Taylor & Stanton, 2007).
Nonetheless, some psychological resources as spirituality
seem to maximize the capacity to coping negative events
and the optimistic assessment that everything is going to be
alright. Spirituality is related to essence, individuality and
the feeling of being itself as a person. This construct has
been considered as hard to measure because the difculties
in delimitation due to the confusion between spirituality and
religiosity. It is clear that spirituality is focused on beliefs
and perceptions about the goodness (Weaver y Flannelly,
2004), kindness and transcendence expressed in the spiritual
meaning, the daily spiritual experiences and the purpose
of life. The religiosity is regarding faith, religious beliefs
and practice, aspects that converge and overlap each other
in practice transcendental and religious daily life (Sooet
et al., 2009). Faith gives the suffering person a sense and
meaning of the hard situations such as diseases and adver-
sity, giving a control feeling; spirituality has been linked to
bigger adjustment and effective coping in chronic diseases,
as cancer (Shinall, Ehrenfeld, &Guillamondegui, 2014) and
AIDS (Lyon et al., 2011; Cho & Park, 2013).
Specically, religious beliefs and practices, beliefs in
goodness and kindness (Kazemi, 2010), the self – reported
spirituality (Lucchetti, Lucchetti, & Koenig, 2011) and in-
uenced on end-of-life decision making(Webb & Stouffer,
2014) all of them has been associated to the positive response
to treatments to improve mental health, decrease drugs abuse
(Ragsdale, Hegner, Mueller,& Davies, 2014), health beha-
vior change (Fried et al., 2012) and increase quality of life
(Hasanovic&Pajevic, 2012; Moreira-Almeida &Koening,
2006; Robinson, Cranford, Webb & Brower, 2007).
In some cases, higher spirituality has been linked to ten-
dency to have less healthier behaviors (Boswell, Kahana&
Dilworth-Anderson, 2006; Lillis, Gifford, Humphreys,&
Moos, 2008; McCullough &Laurenceau, 2005) because
the person thinks is protected; this idea is related to the
optimistic belief no realistic, in which a bias of external
control is waiting for protection of God despite of the risky
behaviors to health. The relationship between optimism and
spirituality has not been studied enough.
In opposition, it has been found that people coping with
spiritual strategies seem to have advantages in comparison
to people who do not use them. Litwinczuk and Groh (2008)
found that people more spiritual achieved easily: a) evoke
emotions and feelings of comfort, b) perceive more stronghold,
empowerment and control, c) diminish the emotional charge
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caused by the disease, d) feel they receive social support, e)
feel spiritual support through the close relation perceived
with goodness, f) give sense to the disease and accept it, g)
perceive help in the process of maintain health, h) relieve
fear and uncertainty related to death, i) self – acceptance
and j) reduce self – blame. These authors also afrmed that
increasing spiritual activity is linked to diminishing of stress
and disappearing unpleasant feelings.
Therefore, to study coping and spirituality as personal
conditions related to optimistic beliefs about benecial events
can provide more information to understand the source of
optimistic trend. In addition, understanding the effect of some
factors linked to the appearance and maintain of cognitive
and behavioral styles centered in dispositional optimism
is important if the goal is approach health problems, from
intervention perspective or prevention view. Hence, the aim
of the present study was to determine if there is any relation
between sociodemographic aspects (age, education level,
family composition, gender and socioeconomic status) and
psychosocial factors (coping, spirituality, stressful life events
and dispositional optimism) in parents, teachers and young
people between 12 and 18 years old.
Method
The present descriptive correlational study looked for
assessing the predictive association between sociodemo-
graphic variables such as age, gender, education level and
socioeconomic status and psychosocial factors as coping
styles, spirituality, stressful life events, family composition,
and dispositional optimism in parents, teachers and young
people.
Participants
The sample was stratied by levels of intact groups; it
was composed by 319 male and female teenagers between
12 and 18 years old, with a median of 14.8 years. They were
students at three schools: one of them was mixed gender,
the other one was a female school and the other one was
a male school. It was possible to get contact with 138 pa-
rents or family caregivers and the sample also included 19
teachers qualied by the teenagers as a meaningful model.
Parents or family caregivers were in average 41.59 years
old with a standard deviation of 7.95 and a rank from 18
to 66 years old.
Instruments
Dispositional Optimism Questionnaire (Cuestionario de
OptimismoDisposicional in original language): it is a test
designed by Londoño, Hernández, Alejo&Pulido (2013)
Colombian people. It assesses people´s trend to interpret in
a positive or negative way the situations, to wait for good
results and to provide personal resources in pro of getting the
solutions to daily events. The questionnaire has 20 items with
three answer options: one of them is pessimistic (centered
in the permanent expectancy that something wrong is going
to happen), the other one is an optimistic bias no realistic
(focused on waiting for something really good to happen no
matters the person’ action) and the last one is dispositional
optimism (permanent expectancy that something good will
happen with actions to facilitate it). To classify the prole,
the same options are used and they are the factors measured
through the items. The prole is obtained reviewing answer
trends and the factor average of them. The level of reliability
of the test is high with alpha of .85.
Questionnaire of coping forms (Cuestionario de formas
de afrontamiento in Spanish): This questionnaire was de-
veloped by Folkman and Lazarus and adapted to Spanish
population by Vitaliano, Russo, Carr, Maiuro and Becker
(1985). The adaptation to Colombia was made by Londoño
and Archila (2004) and revalidated by Rueda and Vélez-
Botero (2010), with 46 items clustered in seven subscales
or factors, measuring responses of people in daily stressful
situations. Coping styles measured by this test are: problem
– focused coping, self – blame, naive or illusory thinking,
social support search, minimizing the threat and mixed
style, with Likert scale 5 options from “always” to “never”.
Cronbach Alpha reached to Colombian population was .85.
Index of Spirituality and Wellness: Daaleman and Frey
(2004) developed this instrument to test spirituality and
wellbeing of people, with 12 items divided in two domains,
six of them regarding self – efcacy and the other six related
to vital scheme, independent one group from the other. The
scale has a good reliability level of .97. The instrument
includes statements related to 2 dimensions mentioned
above and people have to respond in Likert scale with 5
options from completely disagree to completely agree. The
higher scores indicate low feeling of inability, high sense
of vulnerability and lack of sense of life.
Stressful Life Events Scale (Escala de
AcontecimientosVitalesEstresantes): It was designed by
Oliva, Jiménez, Parra and Sánchez-Queijá (2008), based on
23 events previously classied for World Health Organization
as potentially stressful for most of young people. These
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What makes us optimistic? : psychosocial factors as predictors of dispositional optimism in young people
events can be academic, familiar, peers and personal aspects.
Cronbach alpha is.72. The classication is obtained by adding
the number of stressful events experienced for people; the
scores are higher if the events have happened in the last year.
Sociodemographic data form: With this instrument was
collected information about date of birth (to calculate the age
at the moment of the study), education level (primary school,
high school, technical studies, university and postgraduate
degree), gender (male or female) and socioeconomic status
(based on public services bill from the place the people live) .
Procedure
Stage 1: Selecting the sample. It was made after the
authorization to collect the information was obtained.
Stage 2: Data Collecting. The instruments were applied
in a group format with practitioners in psychology, after the
participants signed the informant consent (for young people
the format were signed for parents or family caregivers).
The application to parents or family caregivers was made by
the same trained team in a parent school meeting scheduled
by the schools. The application to teachers was done under
similar control conditions as well as with young people
and parents – family caregivers in a meeting scheduled by
the directors.
Stage 3: Creation of data bases and analysis of results.
The data bases were in SPSS format, compatible with AMOS
applicative to carry on purications of models and nally,
to determine the nal predictive model.
Results
First of all, descriptive analysis about participants
and measured variables were made. In a second place,
an ANOVA was carried on, to determine if there were
signicant differences between psychosocial variables in
those people scoring high in dispositional optimism factor
in comparison to people scored high in pessimism factor.
Before the predictive model, correlative analyses were done
using statistics depending of the sort of variables measured
(Pearson, Spearman and Kendal) and a model was identied
using regression. At the end, a structural equation analysis
was made to identify the nal explicative model.
The sample was balanced in terms of gender; most of
the teenagers said they have socioeconomic status of 2 or
3; in a higher proportion they were the oldest son, then it
was the youngest member of the family and after that in a
lower proportion there were the middle siblings; most of
the 60% of the teenagers lived with nuclear families (father,
mother and sons) in average they were 5 people living in
the same house (Table 1)
Table 1.
Sociodemographic and family caractheristics of teenagers
Variable f % Variable f %
Gender Socioecon.
Status
Male 165 51.7 1 43 13.5
Femaler 154 48.3 2 98 30.7
3 159 49.8
Place in
thefamily
4 7 2.2
Onlychild 61 19.1
Younger son 72 22.6 Type of family
Middle son 61 19.1 Nuclear 204 63.9
Oldest son 109 34.2 Extensive 108 33.9
Twin 1 0.3 Other 7 2.2
X sd Min Max
Family
Composition
People
wholivewith
4.74 1.85 2 15
Place at home 2.90 1.36 1 7
Notes: sd: standardesviation, f:frecuency.
Young people showed high scores in optimism (22.6),
low pessimism (2.17), an average of 4.58 stressful life events,
medium scores in spirituality (18.15), with avoiding coping
(2.70) and self – blame (2.85). Regarding gender and coping
styles with ANOVA, there were no signicant differences.
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Table 2.
Descriptive statistics of optimism, coping and spirituality in young people
Variable Male Female Min Max X sd
X sd X sd
Optimism 50.30 10.11
44.79
13.93
14 29 22.60 4.05
Pessimism 2.01 1.74 1.98 1.82 0 8 2.17 2.02
StressfulLifeEvents 2.88 2.40 5.24 2.86 0 10 4.58 2.98
Spirituality 17.49 5.74
17.97
3.48 0 30 18.15 5.05
CopingStyles
Problemsolving 2.56 0.39 2.64 0.32 1.33 3.47 2.59 0.40
Social supportsearch 2.45 0.57 2.46 0.50 1.33 3.83 2.44 0.55
Avoidingstyle 2.64 0.30 2.79 0.28 1.90 3.60 2.70 0.35
Fantasy 2.35 0.64 2.45 0.63 1.00 3.43 2.39 0.67
Self - blame 2.67 0.47 2.83 0.45 1.00 4.00 2.85 0.59
Notes: sd: standardesviation
In the group of parents or family caregivers, they were
highly optimistic (23.67) with coping centered in avoiding
(2.64) and self – blame (2.56). They reported 3.17 stressful
life events and a high level of spirituality (20.13)
Table 3.
Descriptive statistics of optimism, coping and spirituality in
parents or family caregivers.
Variable Min Max X sd
Optimism 14 29 23.67 3.78
Pessimism 0 9 1.75 1.89
CopingStyles
Problemsolving 0.60 3.13 2.22 0.48
Social supportsearch 0.67 3.83 2.51 0.68
Avoidingstyle 0.00 3.60 2.64 0.60
Fantasy 0.43 4.00 2.38 0.68
Self - blame 0.00 4.00 2.56 0.83
StressfulLifeEvents 0 10 3.17 2.32
Spirituality 0 28 20.13 6.24
Notes: sd: standardesviation.
In the case of teachers, it was a high level of optimism
(23.73), coping focused on avoiding, followed by fantasy
trend (2.85) and social support search (2.83).
Comparing teenagers with optimistic bias trend no
realistic and teenagers with pessimistic trend regarding
the measured variables, it was found that optimistic
teenagers had emotion – focused coping, especially with
avoiding style (p = .00), fantasy (p = .012) and self –
blame (p = .04). This comparison was possible because
the subgroups were formed with 30 teenagers or more.
Table 4.
Descriptive statistics of optimism, coping and spirituality in
teachers.
Variable Min Max X sd
Optimism 13 28 23.73 4.01
Pessimism 0 11 1.00 1.71
CopingStyles
Problemsolving 1.87 2.80 2.30 0.27
Social supportsearch
1.83 3.67 2.83 0.49
Avoidingstyle 2.30 3.70 3.07 0.41
Fantasy 2.14 3.29 2.85 0.31
Self - blame 1.25 3.25 2.82 0.35
StressfulLifeEvents
1 7 3.92 1.25
Spirituality 1 27 12.42 4.49
Notes: sd: standardesviation
In the bivariate correlational analysis, all the possible
matches were reviewed between the teenagers’ variables,
between teenagers, parents and teachers variables. Only
signicant and direct associations between high optimism,
avoiding coping and self –blame were found, as well as
avoiding style in teenagers and the amount of stressful life
events reported by parents.
Table 5.
Comparison ANOVA between optimistic and pessimistic
teenagers regarding psychosocial variables.
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What makes us optimistic? : psychosocial factors as predictors of dispositional optimism in young people
Variable F p.
Avoiding 5.255 .00
Fantasy 2.828 .01
Self – Blame 3.379 .04
Notes: p: signicancelevel.
In addition, significant indirect associations were
found between the amount of stressful life events re-
ported by teenagers and avoiding style, between social
support searching styles in teenagers and avoiding
style in parents, between problem – focused coping
in teenagers and self – blame style in parents (Table
6). All the variables with the highest correlation were
included, because in exploratory studies is necessary
to recognize as many intervening factors as possible
in a phenomenon.
The multivariant analysis with the outcome variable
(dispositional optimism) generated a model with 34% of
variance explained, including teenagers variables as social support searching style and fantasy, parents or family caregivers’
variables as problem – focused coping and support search style (Table 7).
Table 6.
Correlations between teenagers and parents scores in the measured variables.
Teenagers Parents
Teenagers Pessimism Avoiding Self -
Blame Avoiding Self
- Blame SLE
Optimism -.627*.369** .296*
Pessimism -.379**
Problemsolving -.400** -.336*
Social support -.272*
Avoiding .266*
Notes. SLE: Stressful Life Events, *p =.05; ** p = .01
Table 7.
Predictive model of optimism in teenagers.
Unstandardized
Coefcients
Standardized
Coefcients
t p
95,0%
CondenceInterval
B sd Beta
Lower
Limit
HigherLimit
1 (Constant) - 6.12 6.86
- 0.89 0.37 - 19.94 7.69
TeenagerCoping Style
ProblemSolving 3.75 1.43 0.37
2.62 0.01 0.87 6.63
Social Support - 3.26 1.02 - 0.44
- 3.17 0.00 - 5.33 - 1.19
Fantasy - 4.60 1.74 - 0.68
- 2.64 0.01 - 8.10 - 1.09
Parents
Problem – FocusedCoping 5.22 1.74 0.74
2.98 0.00 1.69 8.74
Social Support Search Coping Style - 3.86 1.46 - 0.65
- 2.64 0.01 - 6.80 - 0.92
Outcome Variable: Optimism in teenagers
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TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2014, Vol. 32, Nº 1, 41-46
constanza londoño pérez, marcela Velasco salamanca, iVonne alejo castañeda,
paula Botero soto, iVonne joliet Vanegas
The structural equation model explained 41% of the variance and the predicting factors of dispositional optimisms in
teenagers were: problem solving coping in parents, fantasy style in teenagers, with a negative relationship with social support
searching style in parents and self – blame in teenagers.
of the teachers variables were taken into the model. Thereby,
null hypothesis is accepted, because it looks like there is no
relationship between socioeconomic level, family compo-
sition, gender and spirituality with dispositional optimism
in the group of teenagers.
Regarding spirituality, that previously had been associated
to better answers in stressful situations (Johnson, Sheets,
&Kristeller, 2008; Kaskutas, Turk, Bond &Weisner, 2008;
Pardini et al., 2000), it is recommended to make further
investigations, using instruments more elaborated than the
interview used in the present study and even recon rm the
present results about spirituality, in terms of the moderate
level found in teenagers versus high level of spirituality
in parents.
On one hand, the results indicate optimism is a learnt
dimension of the personality, its appearance is mediated for
individual variables such as personal tendency to look for
social support and fantasy as a way to imagine the possible
solutions of the dif cult situation (Seligman, 2005), as well
as parents variables such as the tendency to solve problems
and looking for social support. Searching social support was
identi ed by Taylor & Stanton (2007) as a strategy that is not
negative or maladaptive, people can look for help in other
people, enhancing real and perceived social support, with
the feeling they are important to others. However, searching
social support is bene cial in the solution of situations when
the individual keep the responsibility on the situation and
does not charge the other people with it.
of the teachers variables were taken into the model. Thereby,
null hypothesis is accepted, because it looks like there is no
relationship between socioeconomic level, family compo-
sition, gender and spirituality with dispositional optimism
in the group of teenagers.
Regarding spirituality, that previously had been associated
to better answers in stressful situations (Johnson, Sheets,
Pardini et al., 2000), it is recommended to make further
investigations, using instruments more elaborated than the
interview used in the present study and even recon rm the
present results about spirituality, in terms of the moderate
level found in teenagers versus high level of spirituality
in parents.
On one hand, the results indicate optimism is a learnt
dimension of the personality, its appearance is mediated for
individual variables such as personal tendency to look for
social support and fantasy as a way to imagine the possible
Figure 1.Predictive model of dispositional optimism.
Discussion and Conclusions
In summary, the predictive model of dispositional op-
timism explained 43% of variance and included teenagers’
variables as social support search style, fantasy and self –
blame, parents and family caregivers’ variables as problem
solving coping and social support searching style and none
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TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2014, Vol. 32, Nº 1, 41-46
What makes us optimistic? : psychosocial factors as predictors of dispositional optimism in young people
Carver and Connor-Smith (2010) propose that if the coping
strategy is focused only on relieving emotions, coping can
be considered inappropriate, because the individual does not
look for a real solution but he is trying to feel discomfort.
Then, the person who looks for social support to unbur-
den or resolve the situation is more consistent with dispo-
sitional optimistic style and the social group is considered
as an important resource in the solution of stressful events
(Birditt&Antonucci, 2008; Moser, 2009; Sohl& Moyer,
2009). The individual assumes responsibility by making
behaviors and actions oriented to solve the problem under
an optimistic sight of the possibility of reach the desired
results (Augusto Landa, Aguilar-Luzón, &Salguero Duarte,
2008;Cabarcas&Londoño, 2014). This trend to look for social
support, from a positive perspective has been reviewed for
some authors as a way to optimize resources in the pretention
to get a solution (Gison et al., 2014; Oreskovic& Goodman,
2013; Senkus et al., 2014).
On the other hand, the benecial optimism in teenagers
is also associated to coping focused on fantasy, in which
person leads the effort in imagination of ideal situations
where the solution is achievable and accessible. There was
said before that optimistic people have some imaginative
capacity (Seligman, 2005), so the hope is about the good
results will happen and they are visualized (Samper, Mestre,
Tur,& Cortés, 2008). This strategy helps the individual to
release tension and thinking clearer about the solutions and
options, but this style is not benecial without problem
solving style, in which the individual is responsible of the
situation. Nonetheless, the ndings are not completely
conclusive and it is necessary to carry on more studies to
identify two types of coping person with the tendency to
look for social support.
Furthermore, the coping styles like social support sear-
ching and fantasy are combined with self – blame, in which
the individual thinks problems are associated to personal
behavior. In this sense, Martinez-Correa et al. (2006) and
Marrero andCaballeira (2010) studies showed optimistic
people use self – criticism to determine the level of perso-
nal responsibility in the situation and to regulate their own
behavior. Still, it has to be done more research to see if
coping oriented to self – blame includes some characteristics
of self – criticism and in this way, promote positive results
and great adjustment in the stressful situation.
Dispositional optimism of teenagers was associated to the
existence of mixed coping style in parents, in which social
support searching and problem solving styles are combined.
It is possible that parents have been models of mixed styles,
inuencing the optimistic point of view of teenagers, but
it was not associated to father´s optimism. Some authors
like Ortíz et al. (2003) and Vera-Villaroel and Guerrero
(2003) had noticed in their studies the relationship between
parent’s typical coping style and teenagers ‘coping styles;
also, they found a close relation between teenager optimism
and positive skills in solving social problems (Hernández
&Londoño, 2013). In the same direction, Solís and Vidal
(2006) have proposed a link between family models of
coping and coping showed by teenagers.
Most of the teenagers who participated in the study were
low and middle class in the socioeconomic level (status 2 and
3), living with a nuclear family, in average with 5 members
inside the family and 15 people at the same place. However,
none of these variables were signicantly related to high
scores of optimism. They showed high scores of optimism
and there were no signicant differences in media scores
between teenagers, parents and meaning teachers. Taylor
and Staton (2007) identied a moderate optimistic trend with
better capacity to deal with stressful events, the person waits
for positive results as well as a feeling to be able to execute
more control on the situation. Nonetheless, the tendency
to emotion – focused coping can mark the difference and
it makes the level of adjustment is not optimal, because
the incontrollable and permanent event of stress has been
associated with poor adjustment to diseases (Gison et al.,
2014; Oreskovic& Goodman, 2013; Senkus et al., 2014)
and other stressful situations. Thus, the action would be
oriented to change the emotion and no the situation as it is
expected (Gordon et al., 2002; Velasco, Botero&Londoño,
2011). Emotion – focused coping has been found frequently
in young people no matters gender, as it was found in this and
others studies (Hampel&Petermann, 2006), these strategies
are centered in control of the moment and release the ten-
sion more than the option of visualize requirements in long
term. Other investigations have found gender differences
(Babakhani, 2011; Becker & Curry, 2006; Klimstra et al.,
2009; Mpofu& Thomas, 2006; Renk&Creasey, 2003) but
in populations of different cultures and that could be the
reason of the difference with the present study.
In this sense, a lot of studies have been found that exa-
ggerated optimism make people to ignore the real limitations,
because they think that independently the conditions and
their behaviors, the outcomes always will be good (Ridder
et al., 2004, Larsman, Eklof, &Torner, 2012; Seligman,
2005;Covey & Davies, 2004; El-Anzi, 2005), but with
signicant differences between those with an optimistic bias
no realistic and the pessimistic people: extreme optimistic
tended to have more styles focused on avoiding, fantasy
and self – blame than pessimistic people.
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paula Botero soto, iVonne joliet Vanegas
Previous studies like Folkman and Moskowitz (2004)
and Sandín (2002) have been shown that in general, no
matters the predominant style, there is a tendency to regulate
negative emotions as rst reactions in coping, interfering
with actions and effective solutions of the problems. This
regulation can be through avoiding, fantasy or self – blame
as in the case of teenagers, or can be through social support
searching and avoiding as in the case of parents.
Pessimism was related to less fantasy, avoiding and
self – blame, in opposition to previous researches showing
a marked tendency in pessimistic people to self – blame in
the situations, considering as internal and stables the causes
of them, associated with personal characteristics and low
capacity of modication (Remor et al., 2006). Likewise,
teenagers reported more stressful life events in less time,
in comparison with parents and teachers, but due to the
unequal sizes in the groups, these comparisons have to be
taken carefully.
Regarding coping styles in teenagers and their association
with parents coping styles, it was found as in other studies
(Solís& Vidal, 2006) that problem solving style in teena-
gers was negative associated to avoiding and self – blame
style in parents. At the same time, social support style in
teenagers was negative related to avoiding style in parents.
These results mean that if parents were less avoiding and
focused on self – blame, the teenagers would show more
strategies centered in problem solving and social support.
There are some limitations to be present related to the
results. One of them is the difculty in the parents’ interview
that leaded to lost 100 teenagers data. Other limitation is
the interview used to measure spirituality because there is
no validate instrument to Colombian population. The other
limitation is the type of transversal study, because the results
and the model have been conrmed in future studies.
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