Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952576 | Print ISBN: 9780761923602 | Online ISBN: 9781412952576| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Optimism, Pessimism, and Health
Charles S. Carver
The concepts of optimism and pessimism concern people's expectations for the future. These concepts have ties both to centuries of folk wisdom and to a class of psychological theories of motivation, which as a group are called expectancy-value theories. These theories suggest how optimism and pessimism come to be reflected in people's behavior and emotions. These reflections, in turn, represent pathways by which this personality disposition may influence people's health. A little theoretical background: Expectancy-value models begin with the idea that behavior is aimed at attaining desired goals. Without a valued goal, no action occurs. The other core concept is expectancies: confidence or doubt about attaining the goal. If a person lacks confidence, again there is no action. Only with sufficient confidence do people engage (and remain engaged) in goal-directed efforts. These ideas apply to specific values and focused confidence; they also apply to optimism and pessimism, in which the ...