Dispositional optimism

Charles S. Carver, Michael F. Scheier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

362 Scopus citations


Optimism is a cognitive construct (expectancies regarding future outcomes) that also relates to motivation: optimistic people exert effort, whereas pessimistic people disengage from effort. Study of optimism began largely in health contexts, finding positive associations between optimism and markers of better psychological and physical health. Physical health effects likely occur through differences in both health-promoting behaviors and physiological concomitants of coping. Recently, the scientific study of optimism has extended to the realm of social relations: new evidence indicates that optimists have better social connections, partly because they work harder at them. In this review, we examine the myriad ways this trait can benefit an individual, and our current understanding of the biological basis of optimism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-299
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Coping
  • Expectancies
  • Health
  • Motivation
  • Optimism
  • Pessimism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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