Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Dispositional Optimism

  • Lauren Zagorski
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_1222



Dispositional optimism is a stable personality trait characterized by general positive expectations that influence motivated action. When confronted with obstacles in achieving a desired future state, those who are optimistic anticipate positive outcomes from their actions. According to this self-regulatory model, optimism plays a role in negative feedback loops that guide goal-directed behavior. Consequently, optimistic individuals display a cross-situational tendency to enhance efforts toward their goals instead of disengaging and withdrawing efforts. It is also theorized that optimism is implicated in the propensity to attribute the cause of negative events as external and unstable. This explanatory style then influences future expectancies and behavior.

Various investigations of dispositional optimism have revealed a positive relationship with problem-focused and engagement coping strategies. This is the proposed pathway for optimism’s potential...

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References and Readings

  1. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2002). Optimism. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 231–243). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Segerstrom, S. C. (2010). Optimism. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 879–889. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2010.01.006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1992). Effects of optimism on psychological and physical well-being: Theoretical overview and empirical update. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16(2), 201–228. doi:10.1007/BF01173489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA