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Optimism versus pessimism as predictors of physical health: a comprehensive eeanalysis of dispositional optimism research

Scheier, Michael F., Swanson, Joshua D., Barlow, Meaghan A., Greenhouse, Joel B., Wrosch, Carsten, Tindle, Hilary and Boivin, Jacky ORCID: 2021. Optimism versus pessimism as predictors of physical health: a comprehensive eeanalysis of dispositional optimism research. American Psychologist 76 (3) , pp. 529-548. 10.1037/amp0000666

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Prior research has related dispositional optimism to physical health. Traditionally, dispositional optimism is treated as a bipolar construct, anchored at one end by optimism and the other by pessimism. Optimism and pessimism, however, may not be diametrically opposed, but rather may reflect two independent, but related dimensions. This paper reports a reanalysis of data from previously published studies on dispositional optimism. The reanalysis was designed to evaluate whether the presence of optimism or the absence of pessimism predicted positive physical health more strongly. Relevant literatures were screened for studies relating dispositional optimism to physical health. Authors of relevant studies were asked to join a consortium, the purpose of which was to re-analyze previously published data sets separating optimism and pessimism into distinguishable components. Ultimately, data were received from 61 separate samples (N = 221,133). Meta-analytic analysis of data in which optimism and pessimism were combined into an overall index (the typical procedure) revealed a significant positive association with an aggregated measure of physical health outcomes (r = .026, p < .001), as did meta-analytic analyses with the absence of pessimism (r = .029, p < .001) and the presence of optimism (r = .011, p < .034) separately. The effect size for pessimism was significantly larger than the effect size for optimism (Z = -2.403, p < .02). Thus, the absence of pessimism was more strongly related to positive health outcomes than was the presence of optimism. Implications of the findings for future research and clinical interventions are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 0003-066X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 12 June 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 17:13

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