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The Oxford English Dictionary defines '''optimism''' as having "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view." The word is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning "best." Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the world, ultimately means one expects the best possible outcome from any given situation. This is usually referred to in [[psychology]] as dispositional optimism. Researchers sometimes [[operationalize]] the term differently depending on their research, however. For example, [[Martin Seligman]] and his fellow researchers define it in terms of [[explanatory style]], which is based on the way one explains life events. As for any trait characteristic, there are several ways to evaluate optimism, such as various forms of the Life Orientation Test, for the original definition of optimism, or the Attributional Style Questionnaire designed to test optimism in terms of explanatory style. While the [[heritability]] of optimism is largely debatable, most researchers agree that it seems to be a [[biological trait]] to some small degree, but it is also thought that optimism has more to do with [[environmental factors]], making it a largely learned trait.<ref>Susan C. Vaughan. Half Empty, Half Full: Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2000.</ref> It has also been suggested that optimism could appear to be a hereditary trait because it is actually a manifestation of combined traits that are mostly heritable, like [[intelligence]] and [[temperament]].<ref>P. Schulman, D. Keith, M. Seligman "Is Optimism Heritable? A Study of Twins." Behavior Research and Therapy. 31.6 (1993): 569-574.</ref> Optimism may also be linked to [[health]].
 
The Oxford English Dictionary defines '''optimism''' as having "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view." The word is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning "best." Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the world, ultimately means one expects the best possible outcome from any given situation. This is usually referred to in [[psychology]] as dispositional optimism. Researchers sometimes [[operationalize]] the term differently depending on their research, however. For example, [[Martin Seligman]] and his fellow researchers define it in terms of [[explanatory style]], which is based on the way one explains life events. As for any trait characteristic, there are several ways to evaluate optimism, such as various forms of the Life Orientation Test, for the original definition of optimism, or the Attributional Style Questionnaire designed to test optimism in terms of explanatory style. While the [[heritability]] of optimism is largely debatable, most researchers agree that it seems to be a [[biological trait]] to some small degree, but it is also thought that optimism has more to do with [[environmental factors]], making it a largely learned trait.<ref>Susan C. Vaughan. Half Empty, Half Full: Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2000.</ref> It has also been suggested that optimism could appear to be a hereditary trait because it is actually a manifestation of combined traits that are mostly heritable, like [[intelligence]] and [[temperament]].<ref>P. Schulman, D. Keith, M. Seligman "Is Optimism Heritable? A Study of Twins." Behavior Research and Therapy. 31.6 (1993): 569-574.</ref> Optimism may also be linked to [[health]].
 
==Explanatory Style==
 
==Explanatory Style==

Revision as of 10:11, 9 July 2010

This probably won't help, but.. [p.mcdermott]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines optimism as having "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view." The word is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning "best." Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the world, ultimately means one expects the best possible outcome from any given situation. This is usually referred to in psychology as dispositional optimism. Researchers sometimes operationalize the term differently depending on their research, however. For example, Martin Seligman and his fellow researchers define it in terms of explanatory style, which is based on the way one explains life events. As for any trait characteristic, there are several ways to evaluate optimism, such as various forms of the Life Orientation Test, for the original definition of optimism, or the Attributional Style Questionnaire designed to test optimism in terms of explanatory style. While the heritability of optimism is largely debatable, most researchers agree that it seems to be a biological trait to some small degree, but it is also thought that optimism has more to do with environmental factors, making it a largely learned trait.[1] It has also been suggested that optimism could appear to be a hereditary trait because it is actually a manifestation of combined traits that are mostly heritable, like intelligence and temperament.[2] Optimism may also be linked to health.

Explanatory Style

Explanatory style is different, though related to, the more traditional narrower definition of optimism. This broader concept is based on the theory that optimism and pessimism are drawn from the particular way people explain events. There are three dimensions within typical explanations, which include internal versus external, stable versus unstable, and global versus specific. Optimistic justifications toward negative experiences are attributed to factors outside the self (external), are not likely to occur consistently (unstable), and are limited specific life domains (specific). Positive experiences would be optimistically labeled as the opposite: internal, stable, global.[3]

There is much debate about the relationship between explanatory style and optimism. Some researchers argue that there is not much difference at all; optimism is just the lay term for what scientist call explanatory style.[4] Others argue that explanatory style is exclusive to its concept and should not be interchangeable with optimism. [5][6]It is generally thought that, though they should not be used interchangeably, dispositional optimism and explanatory style are at least marginally related. Ultimately, the problem is simply that more research must be done to either define a “bridge” or further differentiate between these concepts.[7]

Assessment

Life Orientation Test (LOT)

Designed by Scheier and Carver (1985), this is one of the more popular tests of optimism and pessimism. There are eight measurements (and an additional four filler items), with four positively ("In uncertain times, I usually expect the best") and four negatively ("If something can go wrong for me, it will") worded items.[8] The LOT has been revised twice--once by the original creators (LOT-R) and also by Chang, Maydeu-Olivares, and D'Zurilla as the Extended Life Orientation Test (ELOT). All three are most commonly used because they are based on dispositional optimism, which simply means expecting positive outcomes.[9]

Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ)

This questionnaire created by Peterson et al. (1982) is based on the explanatory style definition of optimism. It lists six positive and negative events ("you have been looking for a job unsuccessfully for some time"), and asks the respondents to record a possible cause for the event and rate the internality, stability, and globality of the event.[10] An optimistic person is one who perceives good things happening to them as internal, stable, and global. There are several modified versions of the ASQ including the Expanded Attributional Style Questionnaire (EASQ), the Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE), and the ASQ designed for testing the optimism for children.[11]

Health

A multitude of research has emerged showing the intense relationships between several psychological constructs and health. Optimism is certainly one of these concepts, with correlation coefficients between .20 and .30.[12] This research has shown that optimism can correlate with good health at many stages, including preventative health (making it less likely to experience illness), severity and duration of illness, and reduction of relapse chances. However, Affleck, Tennen, and Apter (2001) studied optimism and health in terms of physical symptoms, coping strategies and negative affect for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and fibromyalgia. They found that optimists were not more likely than pessimists to report pain alleviation due to their coping strategies, though they did find significance in the psychological well-being of the two groups.[13] A meta-analysis by Scheier, Carver and Bridges confirms the assumption that optimism is related to psychological well-being: “Put simply, optimists emerge from difficult circumstances with less distress than do pessimists.”[14] Furthermore, the correlation appears to be attributable to coping style: “That is, optimists seem intent on facing problems head-on, taking active and constructive steps to solve their problems; pessimists are more likely to abandon their effort to attain their goals.”[15]

See also

References

  1. ^ Susan C. Vaughan. Half Empty, Half Full: Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2000.
  2. ^ P. Schulman, D. Keith, M. Seligman "Is Optimism Heritable? A Study of Twins." Behavior Research and Therapy. 31.6 (1993): 569-574.
  3. ^ J.Gillham, A. Shatté, K Reivich, M. Seligman. "Optimism, Pessimism, And Explanatory Style." Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001. 53-75
  4. ^ C. Peterson "The Future of Optimism." American Psychologist. 55:1 (2000): 44-55.
  5. ^ L. Abramson, B. Dykman, D. Needles. "Attributional Style and Theory: Let No One Tear Them Asunder." Psychological Inquiry. 2.1 (1991): 11-13
  6. ^ H. Zullow. "Explanations and Expectations: Understanding the "Doing" Side of Optimism. "Psychological Inquiry. 2.1 (1991): 45-49.
  7. ^ Gillham, A. Shatté, K Reivich, M. Seligman. "Optimism, Pessimism, And Explanatory Style." Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001. 53-75
  8. ^ M. Scheier, C. Carver. "Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies." Health Psychology. 4 (1985): 219-247.
  9. ^ J. Gillham, A. Shatté, K Reivich, M. Seligman. "Optimism, Pessimism, And Explanatory Style." Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001. 53-75.
  10. ^ C. Peterson, A. Semmel, D. Von Baeyer, L. Abramson, G. Metalsky, M. Seligman. "The Attributional Style Questionnaire." Cognitive Therapy and Research. 6 (1982): 287-299.
  11. ^ J. Gillham, A. Shatté, K Reivich, M. Seligman. "Optimism, Pessimism, And Explanatory Style." Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001. 53-75.
  12. ^ C. Peterson, L. Bossio. "Optimism and Physical Wellbeing." Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001: 127-145.
  13. ^ G. Affleck, H Tennen, A. Apter. "Optimism, Pessimism, and Daily Life With Chronic Illness. Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001: 147-168.
  14. ^ M. Scheier, C. Carver, M. Bridges. "Optimism, Pessimism, and Psychological Well-Being." Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001: 189-216.
  15. ^ M. Scheier, C. Carver, M. Bridges. "Optimism, Pessimism, and Psychological Well-Being." Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001: 189-216.