Distinguishing optimism from pessimism in older adults: is it more important to be optimistic or not to be pessimistic?J Pers Soc Psychol 1997; 73(6):1345-53JP
Confirmatory factor analysis revealed that the Life Orientation Test (LOT) consisted of separate Optimism and Pessimism factors among middle-aged and older adults. Although the two factors were significantly negatively correlated among individuals facing a profound life challenge (i.e., caregiving), they were only weakly correlated among noncaregivers. Caregivers also expressed less optimism than noncaregivers and showed a trend toward greater pessimism, suggesting that life stress may affect these dispositions. Pessimism, not optimism, uniquely predicted subsequent psychological and physical health; however, optimism and pessimism were equally predictive for stressed and nonstressed samples. By exploring optimism and pessimism separately, researchers may better determine whether the beneficial effects of optimism result from thinking optimistically, avoiding pessimistic thinking, or a combination of the two.