, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 399-414
Date: 20 Jun 2010

Look on the bright side: do the benefits of optimism depend on the social nature of the stressor?

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Abstract

Growing evidence suggests that a number of personality traits associated with physical disease risk tend to be social in nature and selectively responsive to social as opposed to non-social stimuli. The current aim was to examine dispositional optimism within this framework. In Study 1, optimism was projected into the Interpersonal Circumplex and Five Factor Model revealing significant interpersonal representation characterized by high control and affiliation. Study 2 demonstrated that higher dispositional optimism attenuated cardiovascular responses to a social (speech) but not non-social stressor (cold pressor) task. Optimism-related attenuation of reactivity to the social vs. non-social stressor contributes further evidence to an emerging picture of psychosocial risk as largely reflecting person × social environment interactions.