Optimism has been conceptualised variously as positive expectations (PE) for the future, optimistic attributions, illusion of control, and self-enhancing biases. Relatively little research has examined these multiple dimensions of optimism in relation to psychological and physical health. The current study assessed the multi-dimensional nature of optimism within a prospective vulnerability-stress framework. Initial principal component analyses revealed the following dimensions: PEs, Inferential Style (IS), Sense of Invulnerability (SI), and Overconfidence (O). Prospective follow-up analyses demonstrated that PE was associated with fewer depressive episodes and moderated the effect of stressful life events on depressive symptoms. SI also moderated the effect of life stress on anxiety symptoms. Generally, our findings indicated that optimism is a multifaceted construct and not all forms of optimism have the same effects on well-being. Specifically, our findings indicted that PE may be the most relevant to depression, whereas SI may be the most relevant to anxiety.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- stressful life events