June 29, 2014
Dr. Shanda Smith
There have been many studies carried out about the effectiveness of optimism as a psychological occurrence but the one I choose to review is based on a study done in my own hometown of Pittsburgh, PA in addition to the University of Miami. Many tests and research have been done on people to see if optimism does in fact have an effect on psychological and physical health. The article is called “Self‐Regulation Processes and Health: The Importance of Optimism and Goal Adjustment”. The purpose of their study was to explore the implications of self-regulatory models of human action for understanding how people deal with threats to their health and well-being, as well as how goal setting has an impact on their optimism. The authors, Rasmussen, Wrosch, Scheier, and Carver, theorized the disposition towards optimism in their studies, called “dispositional optimism”, considering it a trait of equilibrated personality, in time and in various situations, that influences the way in which individuals come to terms with present, past, and future events in life. Since optimistic individuals are generally positive about everyday events in daily life, they found a connection between optimism and physical and mental well-being. Optimistic individuals were more inclined to use appropriate coping strategies and have a more resilient attitude to stress. When dealing with health issues, those of an optimistic nature were more likely to recover faster than those of a pessimistic nature as well.
Optimism seems to play an important role in the association between feelings of loss, hope, and suicidal ideation. The study found a correlation between optimism and depressive symptoms, and as such optimism plays the role of helping to moderate those feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. It was also found to have an impact on a person’s quality of life as well as satisfaction in life. The relation between physical health and optimism is just as important as that of the one between mental and optimism. The study found optimism is associated with better physical well-being when compared to those of a pessimistic nature. During a study on coronary heart patients, they found those that were optimistic prior to surgery had better recovery rates than those that were pessimistic prior to surgery. People who are more optimistic, rather than pessimistic, have been shown to feel less physical pain. People recovering from life changing experiences, who were optimistic of their future, showed signs of better health.
Quality of life refers to conditions such as health, wealth, social conditions, as well as satisfaction of personal desires, measured on an individual’s personal values scale. Rasmussen, Wrosch, Scheier, and Carver (2006), evidenced two variables capable of influencing quality of life: optimism and adaptation of purpose. Both play important