The possible selves of optimists and pessimists

Charles S. Carver, Sakina L. Reynolds, Michael F. Scheier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


We investigated the possible selves reported by 81 college students who also completed a measure of dispositional optimism. Possible selves were sorted into content domains and were also rated for their degree of positivity vs negativity. Optimism correlated positively with the positivity of the expected selves that subjects reported, but not with the positivity of either hoped for or feared selves. This pattern suggests that pessimists do not lack high hopes or aspirations for themselves, but that the hopes seem not to be translated into expectations. A subsidiary analysis suggested that less optimistic subjects had more diverse hoped for selves than did more optimistic subjects. This finding suggests that pessimists, being more doubtful about their future, may hedge their bets by having a wider array of mentally represented aspirations than optimists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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