Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 198–209 | Cite as

Optimism and Spontaneous Self-affirmation are Associated with Lower Likelihood of Cognitive Impairment and Greater Positive Affect among Cancer Survivors

  • Jennifer M. TaberEmail author
  • William M. P. Klein
  • Rebecca A. Ferrer
  • Erin E. Kent
  • Peter R. Harris
Original Article



Optimism and self-affirmation promote adaptive coping, goal achievement, and better health.


The aim of this study is to examine the associations of optimism and spontaneous self-affirmation (SSA) with physical, mental, and cognitive health and information seeking among cancer survivors.


Cancer survivors (n = 326) completed the Health Information National Trends Survey 2013, a national survey of US adults. Participants reported optimism, SSA, cognitive and physical impairment, affect, health status, and information seeking.


Participants higher in optimism reported better health on nearly all indices examined, even when controlling for SSA. Participants higher in SSA reported lower likelihood of cognitive impairment, greater happiness and hopefulness, and greater likelihood of cancer information seeking. SSA remained significantly associated with greater hopefulness and cancer information seeking when controlling for optimism.


Optimism and SSA may be associated with beneficial health-related outcomes among cancer survivors. Given the demonstrated malleability of self-affirmation, these findings represent important avenues for future research.


Cancer survivors Health Information National Trends Survey Optimism Self-affirmation Cognitive impairment Affect 


Authors Statement of Conflict of Interest and Adherence to Ethical Standards

Jennifer M. Taber, William M.P. Klein, Rebecca A. Ferrer, Erin E. Kent, and Peter R. Harris declare that they have no conflict of interest. All procedures, including the informed consent process, were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer M. Taber
    • 1
    Email author
  • William M. P. Klein
    • 1
  • Rebecca A. Ferrer
    • 1
  • Erin E. Kent
    • 1
  • Peter R. Harris
    • 2
  1. 1.National Cancer InstituteNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of SussexFalmerUK

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