A Cognitive Concept of Dispositional Optimism

Topic: Cognitive Psychology
Words: 287 Pages: 1
Table of Contents


Optimism is a cognitive concept that constitutes expectations about future events. In addition, it pertains to motivation: optimistic individuals expend effort, whereas pessimistic individuals withdraw from the effort. (Scheier and Carver, 1) The study of optimism originated primarily in the context of health, where researchers discovered favorable connections between optimism and indicators of improved psychological and physical health (Scheier and Carver, 1).


Disparities in health-promoting activities and physiological corollaries of coping produce physical health impacts (Scheier and Carver, 2). Hope, attributional style, and self-efficacy belong to the same family of related categories (Scheier and Carver, 2). Optimism varies from those in part because it focuses on optimistic vs. pessimistic predictions for the future without respect to how such events occur.

Scheier and Carver (219) defined optimism as a broad disposition to anticipate good outcomes despite challenges. Positive dispositions serve as a shield against stress. It is assumed to be steady with limited room for change and is sometimes referred to as extreme optimism. Pessimists are people who anticipate terrible things to happen to them, while optimists are those who expect positive things to occur (Magnano et al., 3-4). Dispositional optimism is associated with a variety of adaptable psychological characteristics. More optimistic people experience less psychological suffering, even when their expectations are not met (Scheier and Carver, 220). These people respond more actively and adaptively to stimuli.


Optimists seem to adopt more problem-focused coping mechanisms and more effective emotional control techniques, which lead to enhanced functioning. The relationship between optimism and decision-making is based on the notion that optimistic expectations steer people to an effective decision-making method. Optimists feel as if they are capable of implementing sufficient strategies and maintaining efforts to deal with adversity.

Works Cited

Magnano, Paola, et al. “Dispositional Optimism as a Correlate of Decision-Making Styles in Adolescence.” SAGE Open, vol. 5, no. 2, 2015, p. 215824401559200.

Scheier, Michael F., and Charles S. Carver. “Dispositional Optimism.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 18, no. 6, 2014, pp. 293–299.

Scheier, Michael F., and Charles S. Carver. “Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies.” Health Psychology, vol. 4, no. 3, 1985, pp. 219–247.

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