Optimism and health-related cognition: What variables actually matter?

Charles S. Carver, Michael F. Scheier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Schwarzer's article is an attempt to integrate ideas that are similar in some ways and different in others. The issues he addresses are important ones—and very difficult. Although we are sympathetic with his aims, we find ourselves not convinced by several of his arguments. Central to his article is a distinction between what he calls “defensive optimism” and “functional optimism.” He presents defensive optimism as a kind of wishful thinking—an attempt to hide from real dangers behind the perception that one is not at risk. This, he says, leads to failures to take reasonable precautions. Functional optimism, in contrast, is a positive view of one's abilities to avoid the dangers that one confronts, which leads to engagement of protective behaviors. Each of these portrayals seems intuitively plausible. On the surface, the distinction between them seems reasonable. But is it, really?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-195
Number of pages5
JournalPsychology & Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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