Summary and Comments – Optimism Is Universal
Optimism Is Universal: Exploring the Presence and Benefits of Optimism in a Representative Sample of the World
by Gallagher, M. W., Lopez, S. J., & Pressman, S. D. (2013)
(Journal of Personality, 81(5). 429-440. DOI: 10.1111/jopy.12026)
Background & Research
Recent theories of and studies on optimism tend to agree that optimism is an adaptive psychological resource and provides overall benefits for individuals, rather than being a damaging delusion as was earlier thought by some philosophers and psychologists. While there are some indications that defensive pessimism may be adaptive and optimism maladaptive in some very specific circumstances, overall, numerous studies and meta-analyses have shown higher levels of optimism to be linked to improved psychological health, in particular subjective well-being, as well as subjective, and to a lesser extent objective, physical health.
However, as with so much psychological research, optimism and its effects have mainly been studied in industrialized, relatively wealthy nations. Are the results obtained in such studies then generalizable to the entire world? Is optimism a) widely present and b) adaptive in other parts of the world, where, e.g., economic outlooks may be more dire and life expectancy and other Quality of Life indicators are lower? Continue Reading…