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Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being



Many studies have been carried out about the effectiveness of optimism as a psychological phenomenon, leading to various theoretical formulations of the same concept, conceptualized as “disposition”, “attributional style”, “cognitive bias”, or “shared illusion”. This overview is an attempt to explore the “optimism” concept and its relations with mental health, physical health, coping, quality of life and adaptation of purpose, health lifestyle and risk perception. Positive and negative expectations regarding the future are important for understanding the vulnerability to mental disorders, in particular mood and anxiety disorders, as well as to physical illness. A significant positive relation emerges between optimism and coping strategies focused on social support and emphasis on positive aspects of stressful situations. Through employment of specific coping strategies, optimism exerts an indirect influence also on the quality of life. There is evidence that optimistic people present a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or even pessimists. Optimism may significantly influence mental and physical well-being by the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as well as by adaptive behaviours and cognitive responses, associated with greater flexibility, problem-solving capacity and a more efficient elaboration of negative information.
Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, 2010, 6, 25-29 25
1745-0179/10 2010 Bentham Open
Open Access
Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being
Ciro Conversano1,†,*, Alessandro Rotondo2,†,*, Elena Lensi1, Olivia Della Vista1, Francesca
Arpone1 and Mario Antonio Reda1
1Istituto di Scienze del Comportamento Università degli Studi di Siena, Policlinico Le Scotte viale Bracci – 53100 Siena,
Italy, 2Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana, Pisa, via Roma 67 – 56126 Pisa, Italy
Abstract: Many studies have been carried out about the effectiveness of optimism as a psychological phenomenon, lead-
ing to various theoretical formulations of the same concept, conceptualized as “disposition”, “attributional style”, “cogni-
tive bias”, or “shared illusion”. This overview is an attempt to explore the “optimism” concept and its relations with men-
tal health, physical health, coping, quality of life and adaptation of purpose, health lifestyle and risk perception.
Positive and negative expectations regarding the future are important for understanding the vulnerability to mental disor-
ders, in particular mood and anxiety disorders, as well as to physical illness. A significant positive relation emerges be-
tween optimism and coping strategies focused on social support and emphasis on positive aspects of stressful situations.
Through employment of specific coping strategies, optimism exerts an indirect influence also on the quality of life. There
is evidence that optimistic people present a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or even
pessimists. Optimism may significantly influence mental and physical well-being by the promotion of a healthy lifestyle
as well as by adaptive behaviours and cognitive responses, associated with greater flexibility, problem-solving capacity
and a more efficient elaboration of negative information.
Keywords: Optimism, Mental health, Physical health, Coping, Quality of life, Adaptation of purpose, Health lifestyle, Risk percep-
As it is commonly understood, the term ‘optimism’ em-
braces two closely correlated concepts: the first is the incli-
nation to hope, while the second more generally refers to the
tendency to believe that we live in “the best of all possible
worlds”, as coined by the German philosopher Gottfried
Wilhelm Leibniz in his famous theodicy, ridiculed in Vol-
taire’s Candide.
Over the last few years, a significant body of research has
been carried out about the effectiveness of optimism as a
psychological phenomenon, leading to various theoretical
formulations of the same concept, understood as “disposi-
tion”, “attributional style”, “cognitive bias”, or “shared illu-
Scheier and Carver [1] theorized the “disposition” to-
wards optimism in their studies, called “dispositional opti-
mism”, considering it a trait of an equilibrated personality, in
time and in various situations, that influences the way in
which individuals come to terms with present, past and fu-
ture events in life. Optimistic individuals are positive about
events in daily life. In the research carried out regarding this
perspective, positive correlations have been found between
optimism and physical/mental well-being. Optimistic sub-
jects tend to have more frequently protective attitudes, are
more resilient to stress and are inclined to use more appro-
priate coping strategies.
*Address correspondence to these authors at the Istituto Di Scienze Del
Comportamento, Viale Bracci, 16, 53100 Siena, Italy; Tel: +39 338
2694718; Fax: +39 0577 233215; E-mail:
These authors contributed equally to this work.
In open contrast, studies carried out by Peterson and
Seligman [2], that were prevalently directed towards the un-
derstanding of the psychological bases of pessimism, lead to
conception of its opposite, optimism, as an “attributional
style”, characterized by the tendency to believe that negative
events are inconstant (the negative event will not repeat it-
self), external (I am not responsible for the event) and spe-
cific (the event is “specific”, self-limiting and will not influ-
ence any other activities of mine and my life). Optimists
believe that positive events are more stable and frequent than
negative ones. They think that they can avoid problems in
daily life and prevent them from happening, and therefore
they cope with stressful situations more successfully than
pessimists [3, 4].
Referring to the viewpoint of Social Cognition, a third
perspective sustains that optimism is the consequence of a
cognitive underestimation of risk, in other words, a “bias”
for the Self. This bias reflects the optimist’s conviction that
positive events are more likely to occur to him/herself while
negative events prevalently affect others. Weinstein [5, 6]
defined this phenomenon “unrealistic optimism”. The opti-
mistic bias is not a personality trait like dispositional opti-
mism [1] but rather a systematic cognitive distortion of the
consideration of one’s own probability of encountering nega-
tive events. The optimistic bias has been defined as the result
of the joint efforts of two mechanisms. The first of these is
related to cognitive factors such as lack of information and
poor critical insight of one’s own cognitive skills. The sec-
ond mechanism has a motivational nature, closely tied to
defending one’s self-esteem and to defensive negation.
26 Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, 2010, Volume 6 Conversano et al.
This overiew is an attempt to explore optimism concept
and its relations with mental health, physical health, coping,
quality of life and adaptation of purpose, health lifestyle and
risk perception.
Positive and negative expectations regarding the future
are important for understanding the vulnerability to mental
disorders, in particular mood disorders. Recent studies have
found an inverse correlation between optimism and depres-
sive symptoms [7, 8], and also between optimism and suici-
dal ideation [9]. As such, optimism seems to have an impor-
tant moderating role in the association between feelings of
loss of hope and suicidal ideation [10]. In relation to this,
Van der Velden et al. [11] have recently studied the associa-
tion between ‘dispositional optimism’ and depression in vic-
tims of a natural disaster. The results of this research show
that compared to optimists, pessimists nurtured little hope
for the future and were more at risk for depressive and anxi-
ety disorders, with subsequent impairment of social function-
ing and quality of life. The role of optimism in the quality of
life has also been investigated in depressive disorders emerg-
ing in patients suffering from somatic pathologies, (such as
acute coronary syndrome, for instance) in which a significant
inverse correlation was found between dispositional opti-
mism and level of satisfaction in life on one hand and de-
pressive symptoms emerging after the cardiovascular event
on the other hand [12].
Giltay et al. [13] raised the question of using psychother-
apy to promote an optimistic disposition in pessimistic sub-
jects, thus developing an efficient strategy to fight depres-
sion. Evidence regarding this subject has emerged also from
studies carried out on victims of catastrophic events such as
natural disasters. In fact, it has been observed that even one
single session of cognitive-behavioural therapy, targeted at
enhancing the sense of control and coping with incapacitat-
ing disturbances that ensue after a natural disaster, may con-
tribute to improving the well-being of the individual [14]. A
brief intervention of this type, focused on recuperating an
active coping strategy and regaining control, may be signifi-
cant for ‘pessimistic’ victims, considering that they are more
inclined to avoid problems and “give up”, instead of trying
to regain control of their lives [13].
Despite the small number of studies published on this
matter, the relation between physical health and optimism is
as important as that between optimism and mental health
described above. Many studies have found that optimism is
correlated with better physical well-being compared to pes-
simism. Moreover, in contrast with optimism, pessimism is
correlated with excessive somatic complaints [15]. In a study
on a population of elderly subjects of both sexes, aged be-
tween 65-85 years, Giltay et al. [16] noted that dispositional
optimism predicted less probability of mortality in general
and of cardiovascular mortality in particular. These data have
been confirmed in a subsequent longitudinal study on a
population of males aged between 64 - 84 years in which an
inverse correlation was reported between dispositional opti-
mism and the risk of cardiovascular death [13]. Matthews et
al. [17] observed that in the three years following the meno-
pause, carotid atherosclerosis tended to progress more slowly
in optimistic women compared to their pessimistic peers. In
reference to oncological patients, Schulz et al. [18] noted
that high scores on the pessimism items of the LOT (a meas-
ure of dispositional optimism) [1] significantly predicted
premature death in young patients with breast cancer.
Among patients with neck or head cancer, optimists mani-
fested significantly greater survival a year after diagnosis
when compared to pessimists [19]. In a recent study, Ironson
et al. [20] showed how dispositional optimism, less avoidant
coping strategies and lower level of depression positively
influence progression of the illness in patients suffering from
Although optimism is commonly believed to be a protec-
tive factor with regard to well-being and physical and psy-
chical health [1] some research has suggested that this is not
always the case. Schofield et al. [21] found that optimism
did not predict lower mortality rates among lung cancer pa-
tients. Also studies concerning the immune system turned
out contrasting results. Tomakowsky et al. [22] investigated
the correlation between the “dispositional” optimism [1] and
the “attributional” optimism [2, 4] mentioned earlier, with
the clinical and immune condition of subject affected with
AIDS. The results of their research indicated that both types
of optimism were associated with an improvement of the
symptomatology of AIDS. Nevertheless, in the long term,
high levels of optimism, in particular, of the attributional
type, were associated with a significant impairment of the
immune defence system. Milam et al. [23], on the other
hand, found that high levels of optimism do not confer any
clinical improvement to AIDS patients, although moderate
levels were found to be associated with more efficacious
immune systems. Segerstrom [24, 25] examined two hy-
potheses that may explain these results: the disappointment
hypothesis, according to which persistent and uncontrollable
stressors reduce the positive expectations that are typical of
optimists and thus consequently control over the stress fac-
tors, leading to decrease in immune defence. The other is the
engagement hypothesis theorizing that more optimistic indi-
viduals are more easily drawn to trying to resolve a problem
while pessimists tend to let the matter drop, thus ending up
more exposed to stress. As such, in cases of severe illnesses
like AIDS, when associated with the elevated levels of corti-
sol and adrenalin that typically present when faced with
stress, optimism may actually determine a decrease in the
defence mechanisms of the immune system.
Coping refers to those mechanisms and mental processes
enacted by the individual as an adaptive response to reduce
the stress deriving from a threatening situation, as defined by
Lazarus and Opton [26].
From the early studies of Scheier et al. [27], a significant
positive relation emerged between optimism and different
aspects of life, such as coping strategies focalized on the
problem, looking for social support and emphasis of the
positive aspects of the stressful situation.
Despite a certain amount of dissent, other researchers
confirmed the first results. Dispositional optimism was found
to be positively correlated with those coping strategies ide-
Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, 2010, Volume 6 27
ated to eliminate, reduce or manage the stressors and nega-
tively correlated with those employed to ignore, avoid or
distance oneself from stressors and emotions [28]. Moreover,
the choice of the coping strategy shows to be constant over
the course of time [29]. Low levels of dispositional optimism
were observed in students who were particularly vulnerable
to the normal difficulties encountered in scholastic environ-
ments and who developed intolerance or even hostility to-
wards the school [30]. Also in the work environment a posi-
tive association was observed between optimism and per-
formance, mediated by the positive influence that optimism
has on coping strategies [31]. Many studies have confirmed
that optimists tend to use coping strategies that focalize on
the problem more frequently compared to pessimists. When
these strategies cannot be enacted, optimists resort to adap-
tive strategies that focalize on the emotions, for example,
acceptance, humour and positive re-assessment of the situa-
tion [27, 32-34].
Through employment of specific coping strategies, opti-
mism exerts an indirect influence also on the quality of life.
In a sample of women with breast cancer Schou et al. [35]
found that optimistic women presented coping strategies
characterized by acceptance of the situation, emphasis of the
positive aspects and attempts to alleviate their condition with
a sense of humour, showing evident positive results on their
quality of life. In contrast, the pessimistic women reacted
with sentiments of impotence and loss of hope which signifi-
cantly worsened their quality of life.
Quality of life refers to life conditions of an individual
(health, wealth, social conditions) and satisfaction of per-
sonal desires, measured on a scale of personal values [36].
As such, we are dealing with a multidimensional construct
that integrates objective and subjective indicators, a wide
range of varying contexts of life and individual values.
Wrosch and Scheier [34] evidenced two variables capa-
ble of influencing quality of life: optimism and adaptation of
purpose. Both in fact exert a fundamental role in adaptive
management of critical circumstances in life and of goals to
reach. There is evidence that optimistic people present a
higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of
optimism or even pessimists [37, 38]. It has been demon-
strated that in the presence of severe pathological conditions,
optimistic patients adapt better to stressful situations com-
pared to pessimists, with positive repercussions on their
quality of life. For example, in a sample of patients who un-
derwent an aortic-coronary bypass, optimism was signifi-
cantly and positively associated with quality of life in the six
months following the operation [39]. The optimistic patients
in fact presented a more rapid clinical improvement during
the period of hospitalization and a quicker return to daily
routine after discharge from hospital. Analogous results are
reported in samples of patients with other pathologies. In
patients affected with epilepsy, Pais-Ribeiro et al. [40] found
that optimists showed an improved perception of their physi-
cal and mental state of health and reported higher quality of
life compared to pessimists. Kung et al. [41] examined the
relation between optimism-pessimism and quality of life in
patients with cancer of the neck, head or thyroid. In all the
subjects, optimism was associated with better quality of life
in both the scales of the physical and mental components of
the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory)
[42], in six of the eight subscales of the SF-12 (12-item Short
Form Health Survey) [43] and of the SF-36 (36-item Short
Form Health Survey) [44].
Lastly, in women with breast cancer, optimism was asso-
ciated with better quality of life in terms of emotional, func-
tional and socio-familial well-being [45].
Many studies have outlined the importance on quality of
life of an individual’s capacity to adapt and modify his/her
own objectives according to different situations [32, 34]. It is
possible to avoid or reduce the negative psychological and
physical repercussions consequent to the non-achievement of
a goal (for example, becoming ill despite constant efforts to
stay healthy) through a process of adaptive self-regulation
targeted at disengaging oneself from an unrealizable goal
and concentrating efforts instead on more attainable objec-
tives. In fact this form of release from a commitment is adap-
tive because it averts the patient from the emotionally nega-
tive consequences of repeated failures, while re-directing the
objectives gives back meaning and a sense of purpose to life.
Individuals who succeed in this present better quality of life
and better physical health compared to those who have
greater difficulty in renouncing their unattainable goals.
Moreover, they are more optimistic towards their future be-
cause they are able to manage difficulties more efficiently as
well as to identify new aims in life.
One way in which optimism may significantly influence
physical well-being is through promotion of a healthy life-
style. In fact, it is thought that optimism facilitates adaptive
behaviours and cognitive responses that consent negative
information to be elaborated more efficiently and that are
associated with greater flexibility and problem-solving ca-
pacity [3]. These coping strategies are in turn predictive of
behaviours targeted at avoiding, and if necessary facing posi-
tively, health problems [46, 47].
Several studies have analysed the correlations between
optimism and healthy behaviours. In particular Steptoe et al.
[48] in a sample of males and females aged between 65 – 80
years found that optimism was correlated with healthy be-
haviours such as abstaining from smoking, moderate con-
sumption of alcohol, the habit of walking briskly and regular
physical activity, regardless of demographical factors, cur-
rent psycho-physical conditions and body mass.
A recent cohort study which examined 545 males aged
between 64 – 84 for fifteen years revealed a significant in-
verse relation between dispositional optimism and death for
cardio-vascular diseases, with a reduction of 50% of the risk
of cardio-vascular death in the optimistic individuals [49].
Numerous researches have investigated the relation be-
tween risk perception and unrealistic optimism that leads to
involvement in risky situations. Unrealistically optimistic
subjects tend to perceive themselves as being less at risk
compared to pessimists, as far as questions of health are con-
cerned, and furthermore believe themselves more capable of
28 Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, 2010, Volume 6 Conversano et al.
preventing such problems from happening [4]. For example,
comparing groups of students with a marked disposition to-
wards risky behaviour and students having a low tendency to
get involved in such behaviour, Todesco and Hillman [50]
found that both groups assessed the possibility of damaging
consequences of a given situation, but the first group was at
variance for the fact that these students perceived themselves
as invulnerable.
Smokers represent an important field in the study of the
relation between unrealistic optimism and perception of risk
for the health. These subjects consider themselves to be less
at risk than others for developing illnesses associated with
smoking which has been interpreted as a form of irrationality
or rather, as an expression of optimistic bias. McKenna et al.
[51] illustrated that smokers, while considering themselves
to have a greater risk of contracting pathologies linked to
smoking compared to non-smokers, nonetheless perceived
such a risk as inferior when compared to the average number
of smokers (optimistic bias). More recent studies have indi-
cated that smokers have a significantly lower perception of
risk in comparison with non-smokers [52]. By way of con-
firmation of these data, it was observed that smokers with
unrealistic optimism (that is, those who perceived their own
risk as lower than the effective risk) tended to believe that
smoking only for a few years they would not incur any risk
of lung cancer and that developing lung cancer depends
solely on genetic predisposition [53].
Furthermore, unrealistic optimists barely considered the
hypothesis of giving up smoking in order to reduce the risk
of cancer.
Optimism is a tendency to expect good things in the fu-
ture. From the literature here reviewed, it is apparent that
optimism is a mental attitude that heavily influences physical
and mental health, as well as coping with everyday social
and working life. Through an adaptive management of per-
sonal goals and development and by using active coping
tactics, optimists are significantly more successful than pes-
simists in aversive events and when important life-goals are
Clinics should develop an application form of optimism
concept in Applied Psychology and in Psychotherapy. As a
matter of fact, application form of optimism concept should
be integrated in treatments and prevention programs respec-
tively in mental and physical health, to improve well-being.
The authors conceived the manuscript and drafted it. All
authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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Received: October 14, 2009 Revised: February 28, 2010 Accepted: February 28, 2010
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... In this study, secondary data were collated from prior cross-sectional and longitudinal research studies. Ethical approval was received from the Research Ethical Committee at the Faculty of Dentistry (REC-FDKAU), King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (protocol number: 182- [11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]). The dataset incorporated information pertaining to 70 patients who were undergoing orthognathic treatment at the Dental School of King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to facilitate an evaluation of their QoL before and after the surgical procedure. ...
... In contemporary times, individuals are increasingly aware of the psychological aspects and their influence on daily routines and overall well-being [14]. They pay more attention to their facial and physical appearance, the quality of their interpersonal communication, and the subsequent effects on their overall QoL [15,16]. ...
... On the other hand, perceptions and attitudes are potential sources of influence as well. Optimistic and pessimistic expectations act like powerful cognitive filters that change individual perceptions of the world and influence the way people adapt to unfamiliar situations and handle challenges and stressful events [40]. Optimism is seen as overall positive attitudes/expectations for the development of future events; a key ingredient of happiness [41,42]; and a cognitive, affective and motivational construct [43]. ...
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This study responds to the need to explore psychological predictors of COVID-19-related anxiety in vulnerable groups. An anonymous voluntary online survey was conducted (n = 520) with (a) working parents with young children (0–12 y.o.), (b) people with chronic physical conditions, (c) people with multiple vulnerability characteristics and (d) a control group (no self-reported vulnerability) in 2022. Findings showed that perceived stress of the parents and trait anxiety of the chronic sufferers were single weak positive predictors of COVID-19 anxiety. However, both psychological factors had a stronger effect on the pandemic-related anxiety for the group with multiple vulnerabilities. In the control group, trait resilience and optimistic expectations (combined with perceived stress) were moderate negative predictors of COVID-19 anxiety. The findings emphasize the importance of perceptions, expectations, trait anxiety as well as the need for intersectional research of vulnerability from multiple perspectives. Furthermore, they highlight the necessity of group-specific policies and interventions aimed both at handling the negative psychological tendencies of the vulnerable groups and at strengthening the positive tendencies of non-vulnerable groups, rather than tackling only emergent anxiety conditions in crisis times.
... The ability to think positively is a useful tool for coping with stress and may even improve physical and mental health. According to the findings of several studies, some aspects of people's personalities, such as their level of optimism or pessimism, might have a significant impact on various aspects of their health and well-being (Conversano et al., 2010;Zou et al., 2022). One of the most important aspects of successful stress management is the positive thinking that typically comes along with optimism. ...
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The term "stress" encompasses the mental, emotional, and physical pressures experienced by an individual due to a significant alteration in their life circumstances. Stress is a natural physiological response of the human body to situations that require attention or action, as stated by the World Health Organisation (2021). Stress is an inherent component of the human experience. For all individuals. Nevertheless, an individual's overall well-being and contentment can be significantly influenced by the manner in which individuals respond to stress. There exists a diverse range of manifestations that stress can assume. Nevertheless, based on the available evidence, numerous empirical investigations have been undertaken within the discipline of psychology to explore the diverse manifestations of stress. There exist three fundamental classifications of stress, namely acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress.
... Interestingly, it has to be taken into account that studies showed that patients who are more optimistic reported better quality of life and live a longer life. 23,24 Therefore, the optimism of this group of patients might have positive impact on their lives. It is also important to notice that females with mild CHD were significantly more pessimistic than their partners in terms of life expectancy. ...
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Aims Although survival of patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) improved significantly over time, life expectancy is still not normal. We aimed to investigate how adult patients, their partners, and treating cardiologists estimated the individual life expectancy of CHD patients. Furthermore, preferences regarding end-of-life (EOL) communication were investigated. Methods and results In this study, we included 202 patients (age: 50 ± 5) who were operated in childhood (<15 years old) between 1968 and 1980 for one of the following diagnoses: atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, pulmonary stenosis, tetralogy of Fallot, or transposition of the great arteries. A specific questionnaire was administered to both the patients and their partners, exploring their perceived life expectancy and EOL wishes. Two cardiologists independently assessed the life expectancy of each patient. Most adults with CHD believed their life expectancy to be normal. However, significant differences were found between estimated life expectancy by the cardiologist and patients (female: P = 0.001, male: P = 0.002) with moderate/severe defects, as well as for males with mild defects (P = 0.011). Regarding EOL communication, 85.1% of the patients reported that they never discussed EOL with a healthcare professional. Compared with patients with mild CHD, significantly more patients with moderate/severe defect discussed EOL with a physician (P = 0.011). The wish to discuss EOL with the cardiologist was reported by 49.3% of the patients and 41.7% of their partners. Conclusion Adult patients, especially with moderate/severe CHD, perceived their life expectancy as normal, whereas cardiologists had a more pessimistic view than their patients. Increased attention is warranted for discussions on life expectancy and EOL to improve patient-tailored care.
... Thus far, research on comparative optimism has focused largely on health behaviors as opposed to perceptions of health (e.g., Dillard et al., 2009). Similarly, although research generally finds that optimism is good for mental health (e.g., Conversano et al., 2010), few studies have examined the relationship between mental health and comparative optimism about disease risk. The findings from the present study suggest that this specific form of optimism might also produce benefits to mental health. ...
Past research suggests that being comparatively optimistic about one's risk for disease is associated with benefits to mental health, such as lowered stress and anxiety. However, few studies have longitudinally examined whether comparative optimism has the same protective benefits during the COVID‐19 pandemic. The current study examined levels of comparative optimism, changes in comparative optimism over time, and the association between comparative optimism and COVID‐related mental and physical health outcomes among a US adult sample during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Participants completed online surveys at four timepoints, over the course of four weeks in May and June of 2020. Results from paired‐samples t ‐tests revealed that comparative optimism was present, such that participants estimated their risk for COVID‐19 as being significantly lower than that of others their age and sex. Results from linear mixed models suggested that people who were more comparatively optimistic reported lower anxiety, depression, and stress. However, at times when people were more comparatively optimistic, they also reported greater depression and poorer sleep quality. Together, the findings suggest that the relationship between comparative optimism and health may be more complex than previously anticipated and further research is needed to examine the potential pathways through which comparative optimism affects health.
The purpose of this study was to develop the Hispanic Optimism and Personal Expectancy (HOPE), a measure of optimism related to the concept of the American Dream. This measure assesses beliefs that are shared by Hispanic/Latinx immigrants and non-immigrants about opportunities for advancement in the United States. Based on focus groups consisting of both immigrant and non-immigrant Hispanic/Latinx participants ( n = 93), twenty four (24) items for the measure were created from qualitative interviews. Separate exploratory ( n = 174) and confirmatory ( n = 181) factor analysis supported three factors: Hope for a better life, for freedom & security, and for economic opportunity. Results provided empirical support for the HOPE. A final set of sixteen (16) items are included in the HOPE measure. This measure can benefit researchers or counselors who work with Hispanic/Latinx immigrants to understand individual expectancies and barriers toward achieving their American Dream. We discuss implications for research and potential conceptions of U.S. meritocracy as a potential myth for minority and immigrant groups.
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Background: Previous studies suggested that childhood maltreatment is associated with poor health outcomes. While not everyone who experiences abuse as a child goes on to experience poor mental health, some traumatized people are grown to be more resilient than others. Few studies have examined the association between childhood maltreatment and adult resilience. This study aimed to determine different relationships between specific types and features of childhood maltreatment with adult resilience among Chinese with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and healthy controls (HCs). Methods: A total of 101 patients with MDD and 116 participants in the healthy control (HC) group from Zhumadian Psychiatric Hospital and its nearby communities were included in this analysis. Childhood maltreatment was assessed retrospectively using Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Adults' resilience was assessed by the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Generalized linear models were applied between childhood maltreatment (specific types and features) and resilience adjusting for covariates. Results: The total score of CD-RISC and factor scores of strength, optimism, and tenacity in the HC group were higher than those in the MDD group. CTQ total score had a negative association with optimism score among participants in MDD (β=-0.087, P < 0.001) and HC (β=-0.074, P = 0.023) groups. Higher emotional neglect (EN) score (β=-0.169, P = 0.001) and physical neglect (PN) score (β=-0.153, P = 0.043) were related to a worse optimism score in MDD group. Emotional abuse (EA) score was associated with a worse tenacity score (β=-0.674, P = 0.031) in MDD group. For participants in HC group, higher EN and PN scores were related to worse resilience scores (tenacity, strength, and optimism). Conclusions: Patients with MDD showed lower optimism than HCs. Childhood maltreatment, especially childhood negect, independently contributed to optimism, with more severe childhood maltreatment predictive of worse performance of optimism. EA in childhood was also linked to worse tenacity in adult patients with MDD.
What does the word ‘happiness’ truly stand for? And who are the ones that claim themselves to be ‘happy’ in a world that is ever-so dynamic? Discover the commonalities in the traits of happy people as Deepak and Suhasini unravel their characteristics, anecdotes, confessions, one chapter at a time. From personality type to coping mechanisms, The Curious Case of Happy People is a critical understanding of how happiness shapes different people in ways tangible and relatable. Read on as the duo deep-dives into where and how these people find happiness and their definitions of the same.KeywordsHappy people characteristicsConsolidated listicleCommon personality traits Personality type impact
Background: Positive affect and emotional resources, such as optimism, may play a major role in women's health and promote healthy well-being later in life. However, positive affect and optimism measures have not been psychometrically assessed in older women, despite relations to health. Therefore, the objective of this study was to psychometrically assess measures of positive affect and optimism and test their association with other measures of well-being. Methods: In a Women's Health Initiative subcohort of 58,810 women (mean age [standard deviation] 79.0 [6.1]; 89% White), positive affect and optimism were measured using the modified Differential Emotions Scale (mDES) and Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R), respectively. Reliability was tested using Cronbach's alpha and McDonald's omega. Performance was assessed using item response theory. Factor analysis was used to explore the construct validity of the LOT-R. Convergent and divergent validity with other well-being measures was tested. Results: Results suggest good reliability (mDES: Cronbach's alpha = 0.90 and omega total = 0.92; LOT-R: Cronbach's alpha = 0.79, omega hierarchical = 0.61, and omega total = 0.83). Item response analyses indicate mDES's ability to discriminate across positive affect; LOT-R was skewed toward lower optimism levels. Exploratory factor analyses suggest a two-factor solution for the LOT-R. Significant, but small correlations in expected directions to well-being measures confirmed validity hypotheses. Conclusions: The mDES and LOT-R measured positive affect and optimism with good reliability, item performance, and validity in a large sample of older postmenopausal women, supporting use of these measures to quantify effects of positive affect and optimism-promoting interventions.
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Background: Infertility generates high levels of stress to women. The aim was to explore optimism and resilience among women undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART). Method: Participants were recruited in a private fertility clinic. The sample consisted of 229 women under medical treatment for fertility who completed the following self-report instruments: a sociodemographic and clinical questionnaire, Resilience Scale (RS), Life Orientation Test (LOT-R), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and STAI State and STAI Trait. Results: Our data revealed that high resilience levels were associated with a reduced psychological stress (β = .02, p < .001, 95% CI [.34, .13]). A significant negative correlation between perceived stress and resilience (r = -.320, p = .001) was found. Conclusion: The findings highlight the protective mediating role of resilience when women are confronted with the negative effects of infertility diagnosis and assisted reproductive technology (ART), and therefore the potential utility of resilience to reduce infertility-specific stress.
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Relationships between dispositional optimism and pessimism and the course of HIV infection, determined by changes in viral load and CD4 counts, were studied in a longitudinal cohort of 412 patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Multiple regression analyses controlling for baseline levels of disease status, ethnicity, and depressive symptoms demonstrated that higher pessimism at baseline was associated with higher viral load at follow-up (average of 18 months later). Optimism at baseline had a curvilinear relationship with CD4 counts at follow-up. Moderate levels of optimism at baseline predicted the highest CD4 counts at follow-up. Although optimism and pessimism were associated with specific health behaviors (e.g., ART adherence, cigarette use, drug use, dietary practices), none of these behaviors mediated the optimism/pessimism effects. The biologic and behavioral mediators of associations of personality variables with the course of treated HIV infection deserve continued investigation.
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This chapter addresses the question, How does optimism work? Most of the research described assess optimism and pessimism through M. F. Scheier and C. S. Carver's Life Optimism Test (LOT; 1985) of dispositional optimism. The chapter begins by reviewing what is known about how optimistic beliefs are associated with good outcomes, addressing potential mediators such as active coping and the self-fulfilling prophecy. The chapter next examines some recent evidence demonstrating greater flexibility in the cognitive processing and behavior of optimists that may explain their ability to adapt successfully to new situations, especially those situations that are negative or threatening. In particular, optimists seem to be more able than pessimists to vary their beliefs and behavior to match important features of the situation at hand. Three explanation of optimists' moderation of beliefs and behavior are offered: optimists may process negative information more successfully, process information more thoroughly and flexibly, and differ in the development and refinement of procedural knowledge and skills in coping and problem solving. The potential adaptational benefits of being able to moderate one's behavior in this way are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This paper introduces a new scale to measure the life quality of people with an intellectual disability. The Comprehensive Quality of Life Scale‐‐Intellectual Disability incorporates features that reflect contemporary understanding of the quality of life construct and exists in a parallel form for the general population. Psychometric data are presented and comparisons are made between data collected from 59 people with an intellectual disability, the vicarious responses of each respondent's primary caregiver, and 69 university students. It is concluded that the scale represents a useful instrument to measure comparative life quality.
In Study 1, over 200 college students estimated how much their own chance of experiencing 42 events differed from the chances of their classmates. Overall, Ss rated their own chances to be significantly above average for positive events and below average for negative events. Cognitive and motivational considerations led to predictions that degree of desirability, perceived probability, personal experience, perceived controllability, and stereotype salience would influence the amount of optimistic bias evoked by different events. All predictions were supported, although the pattern of effects differed for positive and negative events. Study 2 with 120 female undergraduates from Study 1 tested the idea that people are unrealistically optimistic because they focus on factors that improve their own chances of achieving desirable outcomes and fail to realize that others may have just as many factors in their favor. Ss listed the factors that they thought influenced their own chances of experiencing 8 future events. When such lists were read by a 2nd group of Ss, the amount of unrealistic optimism shown by this 2nd group for the same 8 events decreased significantly, although it was not eliminated. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Cancer patients ( N = 238) receiving palliative radiation treatment were followed for 8 months; 70 patients had died by the 8-month follow-up. Controlling for site of cancer and level of symptomatology at baseline, the authors studied the independent effects on mortality of pessimism, optimism, and depression. The findings show that the endorsement of a pessimistic life orientation is an important risk factor for mortality, but only among younger patients (ages 30–59). Attempts to replicate this finding with conceptually related constructs such as depression or optimism did not yield significant associations for either younger or older patients, suggesting that negative expectations about the future may contribute to mortality in unique ways. The authors conclude that attempts to link psychosocial factors to mortality should focus on specific psychological constructs instead of diffuse, global measures that cover many psychological phenomena and that the role of psychological processes in mortality may vary dramatically depending on age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
IntroductionBehavioral Self-regulationOptimism, Pessimism, and Coping with Health ThreatsOptimism, Pessimism, and CopingConcluding CommentAcknowledgments
BACKGROUND It is popular belief that the psychologic response to a diagnosis of cancer influences survival in patients with cancer; however, research has produced contradictory results. In this prospective study, the authors investigated the relation between pretreatment levels of optimism and survival in patients with nonsmall cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC).METHODS Two hundred four patients who were participating in a randomized trial that compared accelerated and conventional radiotherapy with and without carboplatin chemotherapy were asked to complete two questionnaires assessing optimism. The first assessment was just prior to commencing treatment and the second assessment took place after completing treatment. Survival was measured from the date of randomization to the date of death. Surviving patients were followed until February 8, 2001.RESULTSThe pretreatment questionnaire was completed by 179 patients, and 148 of those patients completed the posttreatment questionnaire. There was a small but significant reduction in optimism scores after treatment (P = 0.005). There was no association noted between pretreatment optimism and progression-free survival (P = 0.52, unadjusted; P = 0.22, adjusted for Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status and patient age), nor was there an association noted between pretreatment optimism and overall survival (P = 0.36, unadjusted; P = 0.19, adjusted for disease stage).CONCLUSIONS There was no evidence that a high level of optimism prior to treatment enhanced survival in patients with NSCLC. Encouraging patients to “be positive” only may add to the burden of having cancer while providing little benefit, at least in patients with NSCLC. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.