A multimethod approach examining the relative contributions of optimism and pessimism to cardiovascular disease risk markers

  • John M. FeltEmail author
  • Michael A. Russell
  • John M. Ruiz
  • Jillian A. Johnson
  • Bert N. Uchino
  • Matthew Allison
  • Timothy W. Smith
  • Daniel J. Taylor
  • Chul Ahn
  • Joshua SmythEmail author


Although dispositional optimism and pessimism are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), their relative independence and unique contributions to CVD risk are unclear. This study addressed these issues by using multiple indicators of optimism and pessimism and linking them to objective risk factors for CVD. A diverse sample of adults (N = 300) completed baseline assessments (including global reports of optimism and pessimism), a 2-day/1-night EMA protocol with ambulatory blood pressure (BP) at 45-min intervals, and had inflammatory markers and carotid intima media imaging collected. EMA reports of momentary positive and negative expectations were averaged to form intraindividual (person) means of optimism and pessimism, respectively. Optimism and pessimism were only modestly correlated between- and within-assessment methods. Higher pessimism, regardless of assessment method, predicted both lower odds of whether BP dipping occurred and a smaller degree of dipping, but was unrelated to other biomarkers. Optimism was not uniquely predictive of CVD risk factors. Pessimism thus appears to exhibit stronger relative contribution to risk indicators of CVD than optimism.


Optimism Pessimism Ecological momentary assessment Inflammatory markers Carotid artery stenosis Ambulatory blood pressure 



This work was supported by Grant Number R01HL109340 from the National Heart, lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Opportunity Network (OppNet), National Institutes of Health. The first author was supported by Grant Number T32DA017629 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

John M. Felt, Michael A. Russell, John M. Ruiz, Jillian A. Johnson, Bert N. Uchino, Matthew Allison, Timothy W. Smith, Daniel J. Taylor, Chul Ahn, Joshua Smyth state that she or he does not have any conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.The University of ArizonaTusconUSA
  3. 3.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  4. 4.University of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  5. 5.University of Texas Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA

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