Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 32–44 | Cite as

Resilience and Coping in Cancer Survivors: The Unique Effects of Optimism and Mastery

  • Matthew W. GallagherEmail author
  • Laura J. Long
  • Angela Richardson
  • Johann M. D’Souza
Original Article


Optimism and mastery are two cognitive traits that involve positive expectations for the future and that have been demonstrated to be important predictors of reduced anxiety as well as superior coping and physical health in many populations, including cancer survivors. There is limited research, however, examining the unique effects of these traits when examined simultaneously. The present cross-sectional study used structural equation modeling to examine the unique effects of optimism and mastery on emotion, coping, and health in 603 adult cancer survivors, and whether results were consistent in men and women. Results indicated that both optimism and mastery were associated with improved emotion, coping, and health and together accounted for a small to moderate amount of variance. Although the effects of optimism were generally greater, mastery also uniquely predicted most dependent variables and there was some evidence that gender influenced these effects, with optimism predicting health control more so in women and mastery predicting health control more so in men. These results demonstrate that it is important to examine both generalized positive expectancies such as optimism and positive expectancies regarding mastery when investigating resilience and emotional well-being in cancer survivors.


Optimism Mastery Cancer Coping Anxiety Resilience 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Matthew W. Gallagher, Laura J. Long, Angela Richardson and Johann M. D’Souza declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Research Involving Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew W. Gallagher
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Laura J. Long
    • 1
  • Angela Richardson
    • 1
  • Johann M. D’Souza
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and StatisticsUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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