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Flexible Optimism

"If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you." - Mohammad Ali

Contents (click to jump to topic)

General Introduction

Optimism has frequently been regarded as a somewhat frivolous quality where people see the world through rose-tinted spectacles and see the silver lining in every cloud. We live in a world full of uncertainty and change where we are unable to control much of what is going on around us. Consequently how we cope in these situations often depends on how we see and explain the causes of bad events. Over the last couple of decades, researchers have shown that optimism can have a huge effect not only on how we see the world but on the way which we deal with these situations.


So what is optimism? Optimism ‘involves positive, relatively stable, favorable expectations and outcomes for the future; it is associated with making positive cognitive appraisals of situations, then with making active, engaged coping efforts to deal with stress, making the best of whatever is encountered’ (Stewart, 2007). Professor Martin Seligman (1996), the leader of the positive psychology movement, uses the concept of explanatory styles to define the term optimism ‘The basis of optimism does not lie in positive phrases or images of victory, but in the way you think about causes.’

Explanatory Style

Seligman’s theory of explanatory style, a cognitive personality variable, has been used extensively in psychological research to predict traits such as depression. (Hjelle, Bush & Warren, 1996; Peterson & Seligman, 1984; Seligman, 1990) However, it also offers a framework for exploring optimism and pessimism, (Seligman, 1990) a theory that materialized from the concept of learned helplessness. Explanatory style is a descriptive term that is used to explain individual differences in how people explicate the cause of bad events. In other words each of us has our own habitual way of thinking that we use to justify setbacks and failures (Abramson, Seligman and Teasdale 1978; Seligman et al 1979). This theory is based on individual differences along three dimensions: permanence, pervasiveness and personalization. The three p’s attempt to address the following questions:

1. How long lasting is the cause of the bad effect? (Permanence vs. Temporary)
2. How much is harmed by the cause of the bad effect? (Specific vs. Global)
3. Did I cause the bad event or did external circumstances cause the bad effect? (Internal vs. External)

Seligman (1990) differentiated the beliefs and thoughts of optimists and pessimists to illustrate their contrasting perspectives on difficult or bad events in their lives. People with an optimistic explanatory style believe that defeat is a temporary situational setback that is not their fault (Temporary/Specific/External). Pessimists, however, will believe that bad events are long lasting, potentially undermining large portions of their lives that they assume to be their fault (Permanent/Global/ Internal). These differing beliefs that distinguish between optimists and pessimists have a direct impact upon their abilities to take action in difficult situations.

Development of Optimism
These explanatory styles develop during childhood and unless deliberate actions are adopted to modify them, they will remain for the rest of our lives. Some children are born with a “sunny disposition” and a natural ability that lends itself to dealing with challenges and solving problems, others however may struggle to overcome difficulties, often expecting the worst to occur. But how does optimism develop in children? Unfortunately there has been very little research into the origins of optimism. However this is starting to change. Recent research has proposed that both genetic and environmental factors play a part in influencing optimistic explanatory styles.


Research into twin studies has shown that up to 50% of our personality traits, such as happiness, aggression and depression are inherited from our parents. Such studies have demonstrated that having an optimistic outlook on life has a heritable component. In a study by Schulman, Keith and Seligman (1991) there was shown to be a significant correlation of explanatory style in monozygotic twin but not in dizygotic twins. This led Plomin et al (1992) to estimate that around 25% of the variance found in optimism is linked to genetics. The variance found may be a result of genetically predisposed differences in positive and negative affectivity (Davidson 1998, 1999) and so individuals who feel happier may think more optimistically (Watson and Clark 1984).

Seligman has argued however that this optimistic outlook on life may not be a result of an ‘optimistic gene’ as such but a consequence of childhood experiences whereby children pick up explanatory styles off their parents. Therefore children inherit their personality traits from their parents, but just not as a result of genetics. The percentage of traits inherited from our mothers possibly could be higher than that of our fathers, simply because we often spend more time with our mothers during childhood.

Negative events

Negative life events, especially traumatic or recurring ones, may increase pessimistic explanatory styles in children. Children that have been exposed to high levels of parental conflict or have been abused have been shown to hold more pessimistic explanatory styles. (Gibb et al 2001; Gold 1986; Kaufman 1991; Nolen-Hoeksema, Girgus, and Seligman 1986) Additionally, children that are exposed to trauma and survive are more likely to catastrophize a non-traumatic event, which in turn promotes high levels of anxiety and depression (Peterson and Moon 1999). A single, highly significant event such as the death of a mother when the child is under the age of 11 can change a child’s explanatory style. As the event is both permanent and pervasive it intrudes on many other aspects of the child’s personality and emotions. Thus, causing all negative events to be catastrophic, permanent and pervasive losses


Another important factor in predisposing children to think optimistically about success and failures is the way in which adults, and parents in particular, think about and talk about their experiences. Seligman has advised that although we are unable to change our children's genes, we can be aware of how we criticize our children to ensure that they have positive attitude towards the world.

Parents have been found to play a vital role in their children’s development of hope. Adolescents and adults that reported their parents to be affectionate and caring have reported higher levels of hope. It is this care and affection received from parents that is crucial to allow children to develop basic trust in the world. If children feel supported and loved by their parents, and sense the world to be a good place, then they will be more willing to go out and explore, take risks and gain competence and optimism (Bowlby 1969; Cicchetti and Toth 1998; Erikson 1963; Snyder 2000a)

Teachers, Peers, and Other Influences

Children may also be surrounded by other influential figures throughout their childhood, such as teachers and peers, ultimately learning optimistic or pessimistic thinking styles from them. Very little research has looked into the role that peers have on the development of optimism in children. During bad or unpredictable events, close friendships has been shown to be therapeutic (Sullivan 1953) and could potentially offer children with a foundation of hope. However both parents and teachers are often concerned with the cynicism, negativity and diminished hope that dominates many cultures today and how that can transpire and become accepted among adolescents. Other adults, such as teachers and sports coaches, can also have a huge influence on our thinking styles, depending on how they deal with our successes and failures in childhood.

Flexible Optimism
Before we move on to the benefits of optimism we feel it is important to explain why we changed our title from 'Learned optimism' to 'Flexible optimism'. This decision was made after reading Martin Seligman's (1990) 'Learned Optimism', who advocated for a more realistic type of optimism. This will be discussed in more detail later on in the wiki but it important to point out that although we need not dwell on the negatives in life, it is also important to acknowledge and embrace the importance of pessimism.

The Benefits of Optimism

Being optimistic has many advantages. Whilst it seems obvious that someone who looks on the sunny side of life is going to have a better time of it overall than someone focussing on the negatives, there are also more tangible benefits to adopting an optimistic attitude.

Physical Health

Optimists have been shown to be in better health than those who are pessimistic. In a study on Harvard University graduates spanning 35 years, it was found that those who were optimists at 25 were significantly healthier at ages 45 and 60 than those who had been pessimists at 25 (Peterson, Seligman and Vaillant, 1988). Optimists have also been found to have better health habits (Park et al, 1997) and report developing fewer physical symptoms over time compared to pessimists (Scheier and Carver, 1991). As well as preventing ill health, it has also been found that optimism can be linked with improved mortality rates of those who are already sick. Schulz et al (1994) measured mortality rates of young patients with recurring cancer and found that pessimism was a significant predictor of early mortality. This might be linked to the fact that optimists adopt better coping strategies when dealing with ill health (Taylor et al 1992). This point has important applied implications as mentioned by Matthew and Cook (2009). They suggested that people who have been diagnosed with cancer should be screened for their levels of optimism as those with low levels of optimism are most likely to suffer from high levels of psychological distress. This would ensure that health services could offer sufficient psychological support to cancer patients who are in need of it the most.

Mental Health

Optimism as a psychological resource has long been linked with mental health. There is a wealth of research on how explanatory style can influence mental health and particular focus within the literature is on depression. Explanatory style theory conceives that a pessimistic explanatory style (explaining negative life events with internal, stable and global causes) is related to the development of depressive symptoms (Peterson and Seligman, 1984). Results from studies spanning over three decades vary. However, a review of 28 studies on children and adolescents by Gladstone and Kaslow (1995) found that higher levels of depressive symptoms were found in subjects who had negative explanatory styles. Whilst pessimism is a risk factor for depression in children and young people, in older people the story is quite different. Isaacowitz and Seligman (1998) found that older people are less vulnerable to depression the more pessimistic and realistic they are about life events. After a negative life event, they found that elderly optimists were more at risk for depression than elderly pessimists. The possible explanation provided for the authors for this is that being pessimistic in old age about negative life events, particularly about the death of both themselves and those around them, is being realistic. Isaacowtiz comments: "Teaching optimism to older adults would be a terribly inappropriate way to prevent depression. Promoting realistic assessment of one's life situation and teaching older adults to know that some negative life events with permanent causes and consequences will take place would be a more appropriate strategy."

Education and Work

Seligman et al (1990) conducted a study of 3rd grade children over 4 years and found that those who began 3rd grade as pessimists had severely reduced academic achievement in 7th grade compared to the optimists. This was more noticeable for boys who had higher scores of pessimism and depression over this period.

Research has also indicated that certain positions in the workforce tend to be occupied by people possessing high levels of optimism. Entrepreneurs have been shown to have high levels of dispositional optimism which is the tendency to expect positive outcomes even when such expectations are not rationally justified (Hmieleski & Baron, 2009). Recent research has also highlighted the significance of optimism in professions within the Mental Health sector. Trotter (1999) emphasised that optimism is a significant ingredient in the 'helping relationship' alongside empathy, humour and self - disclosure. In 1999 Kirk and Koeske found that optimism as opposed to realism was the better approach for mental health case workers working alongside particularly difficult cases. Furthermore, Dekel et al (2006) studied Israeli hospital social workers working with sufferers of post - traumatic stress disorder. The results of this study showed that an optimistic approach by the social workers ensured that they were more able in dealing with PTSD and also that levels of PTSD in the patients was reduced. Nevertheless, although it may seem that optimism is a key trait for a successful social worker Peterson (2000) emphasizes the danger of unrealistic optimism when issues are related to illness, accidents and child protection work.


There are many studies that show optimists gaining higher achievement than pessimists in sporting activities. Seligman (1990) analyzed the explanatory styles of sports teams and found that the more optimistic teams created more positive synergy and performed better than the pessimistic ones. It has also been found that in swimmers, pessimists show more unexpected poor performance than optimists (Seligman et al, 1990).

So, optimists reap many benefits through their ‘glass-half-full’ attitude. They tend to have better educational attainment, better health, greater sporting achievements and live longer. Whilst the relationships between optimism and these outcomes is inevitably more complex than just 'looking on the bright side of life', one thing is clear. Most of the time, it pays to be optimistic.

Practical Exercises

Learning to be Optimistic - Easy as ABC?

Pessimistic cognitive styles can be altered through various cognitive training techniques. The most popular method is the ABC model. The ABC technique was developed by Dr Albert Ellis (1962) and is used in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). Seligman elaborated on this technique in his book ‘Learned Optimism’ by adding a further two steps; D and E. This method encourages optimistic thinking by recognising and then disputing pessimistic reasoning.

  • Adversity - Identify the negative event or situation
  • Beliefs – Identify the automatic beliefs you have about this situation
  • Consequences – Examine the usual consequences you have about those beliefs
  • Disputation - Question your pessimistic reasoning by asking whether there is any real evidence for your negative beliefs or if there are alternative explanations for what has happened
  • Energisation – The resulting feeling after disputing your negative beliefs will lead to a more optimistic outlook on life
  • Click here to see an example of how to use this technique

Does it Work?

Evidence supports the use of this technique for increasing optimism. A study by Quayle et al (2001) examined the effect of an optimism program on depressive symptoms in preadolescence. Participants were given an optimism intervention, incorporating Ellis’s ABC technique, designed to evaluate and challenge negative thoughts, and to make more optimistic and realistic interpretations of everyday problems. Students in the intervention program reported greater optimism and fewer depressive symptoms at a 6-month follow-up, when compared with students in the control group. This provides evidence that you can learn to be more optimistic and this can have subsequent benefits in your life.

Further to this, Cunningham et al (2002) examined the effectiveness of a universal school-based prevention program that was designed to teach optimistic thinking skills. Results showed that, in comparison to control groups, children who participated in the program reported significant improvements in coping efficacy and reductions in depressive attributions. These findings support the feasibility of implementing low-cost programs in school settings to address the emotional health of young people.

Further Exercises to Promote Optimism

There are other practical exercises that have been shown to increase an individuals’ level of optimism. For example, Mann (2001) conducted a randomised controlled study on the effects of a writing intervention on health behaviours in HIV-infected women. Results found that writing about a positive future led to increased optimism and increased adherence to medication, compared to a control group with no writing intervention.

‘Thought stopping’ is another method that aims to alter pessimistic thought. A common technique to achieve this, for example, is snapping a rubber band on your wrist whenever you have repetitive negative thoughts, to force yourself to change your thoughts to more positive ones.

In addition to these practical exercises there are a variety of self-help books available that allegedly teach individuals to learn how to be optimistic. For example, Seligman’s book ‘Learned Optimism’ outlines easy-to-follow techniques that he claims have helped thousands of people rise above pessimism.

The Cultural and Religious Significance of Optimism

Positive Psychology has been concerned with human qualities that have been included in discussions of religion and culture. Optimism is one of these qualities as it is often encouraged through spiritual practices and its significance varies according to different cultures.


Research indicates that there is a marked difference in levels of optimism in Western and Eastern countries. Heine and Lehman (1995) found that levels of unrealistic optimism, which is the tendency to see ones future as rosier than the average person, are higher in Western cultures when compared to East Asian cultures. They also found that Japanese people tend to be more pessimistic than Canadians and that they also have a stronger tendency to form positive biases in negative events and negative biases in positive events. Markus & Kitayama (1999) have suggested that the differences in levels of optimism when comparing Eastern and Western cultures lie with the differences in people adhering to self - serving biases such as comparative optimism. Comparative optimism is the belief that one's risk is below average, without regard of whether or not this belief is correct (Radcliff & Klein, 2002). Levels of comparative optimism are much lower in Eastern cultures and researchers have suggested that this is due to people from these cultures do not see their individual superiority as important as people in Western cultures. This reflects the accepted view that Eastern cultures are more collectivist striving for the overall well - being of the community whereas Western countries are more individualist meaning that each person is more likely to look out for themselves as opposed to the whole of society (Heine & Lehman, 1995).


Religiousity can be defined as the extent to which someone is devoted to their religious beliefs and values. Research into religion and optimism has demonstrated that religiosity has been positively associated with optimism and negatively associated with pessimism (Ai et al, 2003). Furthermore, religious prayer has been shown to be an effective medium for cognitive change towards optimism and increased emotional and physical health (Heck, 2006).However, some researchers would disgaree with these claims. Ciarrocchi et al (2008) concluded that private prayer, attendance at religious services, congregational support, and identity as a religious person did not predict the adoption of an optimistic attitude.

The Paradox of Optimism

As discussed earlier the explanatory style we employ when faced with a setback has implications for our physical and psychological well-being. Optimism as Seligman (1990) interprets it, is beneficial because it motivates people to persist. However, critics of this explanatory style have labelled optimism, a self-delusional strategy characterized by naivety and reality-avoidance (Peterson 2000).

The case against optimism

Seligman (1990) is cautious of his praise of optimism. He acknowledges that optimism has its limits including, its selective application to culture, potential to act as a reality avoidance mask and possibility to encourage responsibility evasion (pp: 291). For Seligman (1990: 291) such limitations, “don’t nullify the benefits of optimism; rather they put it in perspective”.

More drastically, Held (2004) argues that the emphasis on positive emotions has resulted in ‘Tyranny of the positive attitude’. This means that such a mind frame might have far worse diverse effects than pessimism. This is because the lack of enthusiasm we feel when facing a setback might further be worsened by the realization that we lack the strength of alter our feelings. She also argues that the assumption that a positive explanatory style is associated to positive psychological and physical outcomes fails to take into account individual differences, which may decide the manner in which we cope with failure. Lastly, supported by evidence, Held (2002) states several events where pessimism appears to have positive outcomes. Old age is one such factor where research has found that pessimism among old people protects them from depression following the death of a loved one.

Seligman (1990) carefully emphasizes that there is a difference between learned optimism and ‘power of positive thinking’ (pp: 221). The later he believes involves an inaccurate and unsubstantiated cheery way of thinking while learned optimism involves realistic consideration of all explanations. This is supported by research, which has found that continued rehearsal of positive statements has no bearing on long-term positive outcomes. In fact Seligman (1990: 292) goes as far as to suggest that overly optimistic people are as much “slaves to tyrannies of optimism as pessimists are to the tyrannies of pessimism”. Also, when exercised unrealistically, optimism might develop into a reality-avoidance strategy or cloud-cuckoo-land where the individual is constantly tuned to self-delusions, fantasy and idealism (Peterson, 2000). Advocators of optimism emphasize that optimism can only be beneficial when it is ‘flexible’, (Seligman 1990: 292), ‘complex’ (Dunn) or ‘sophisticated’ (Youssef & Luthans 2007) and not a simple ‘reflex’ or ‘habit’ (Peterson 2000: 51).

It thus appears that contrary to what critics argue, Seligman (1990) does acknowledge the fact that optimism has boundaries. He does not dispute the relevance of pessimism, rather he stresses that;
What we want is not blind optimism but flexible optimism- optimism with its eyes open. We must be able to use pessimism’s keen sense of reality when we need it, but without having to dwell in its dark shadows” (1990: 292).

Experimental Results and Key Findings

This section is intended for students who want to quickly get to grips with the key findings in the area of Learned Optimism. If you require more information then you can go back and re-read the sections above which you are directed to at the end of each subtopic or alternatively use the reference list and read the original documents.

Learned Helplessness

Seligman (1975). Discovered 3 main consequences associated with Learned Helplessness; loss of motivation, anxiety and reduced self-confidence, difficulty accepting control of a situation has been achieved even in the face of evidence that shows this. Seligman used a classical conditioning paradigm and mongrel dogs and the discovery was somewhat accidental.

Explanatory Style

Seligman (1990). Explanatory Style can be used to explain episodes that go wrong in our lives. The 3 dimensions are aforementioned and optimistic people are more likely to explain bad events as unstable (temporary), specific and external (see ‘Introduction’).

Learned Optimism and Sales Productivity

Schulman (1999). Relate learned optimism to sales productivity as the best 20% of a sales team create about 80% of the sales. When a task is challenging the individual not only needs the ability and desire to succeed, the belief to succeed is also needed. Suggest that people who do not succeed in sales jobs need to overcome self-defeating beliefs by re-learning pessimistic cognitive styles (e.g. through the ABC model and by advocating flexible optimism). There are also recommendations for sales companies hiring staff however, these are arguably a bit extreme.

Flexible Optimism

Schulman (1999). Also, importantly advocate flexible optimism (being aware of both the costs and benefits when pursuing any particular goal) and not blind optimism or dismissing reality from situations. In high risk situations when the costs are high, pessimists are actually better than optimists at understanding the situation and recognising the costs and risks (see the ‘paradox of optimism’).

Optimism and Genetics

Plomin (1992). Around 25% of the variance found in optimism is linked to genetics and there is a suggested heritability component to optimism (see ‘Introduction’).

Optimism and Health

Peterson, Seligman & Vaillant (1988). Levels of optimism measured in early adulthood can predict health in later life (see ‘Benefits of Optimism’).

Schulz et al (1994). By measuring mortality rates of young patients with recurring cancer it was found that pessimism was a significant predictor of early mortality.

Peterson & Seligman (1984) Links pessimistic explanatory style to depression (see ‘Benefits of Optimism’).

Learning Optimism

Ellis (1962) & Seligman (1990). ABC & ABCDE techniques to encourage optimistic thinking by re-learning pessimistic cognitive styles. Significant results have been reported from other authors using these techniques (see ‘Practical Exercises’).

Optimism and Culture

Heine & Lehman (1995) showed differences in level of unrealistic optimism and pessimism between cultures (see ‘the Cultural and Religious Significance of Optimism’).

A Brief Summary

"The important finding from research in this area is that optimistic thinking is an important skill that can be learned, as supported by controlled studies. There are many benefits of an optimistic approach to life e.g. health and educational benefits and optimism has formed the foundation of much spiritual thought and practice. Additionally, optimists have even been shown to live longer than pessimists. However, research also acknowledges the importance of having a realistic view of life, and this can be achieved through flexible optimism"

How Optimistic Are You?

Click here to take the optimism test to find out!
(Note: You will need to register first, then simply highlight the questionnaire heading and select 'optimism test')

Is Your Glass Half Full?

Thank you very much for visiting our wiki on flexible optimism. We hope it was useful!

Key Paper

Peterson, C. (2000). The future of optimism. The American psychologist. 55(1), 44-55.

Recommended Reading

Schulman, P (1999). Applying Learned Optimism to Increase Sales Productivity. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, Vol XIX, 1, 31-37.

Seligman, M. (1990). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, New York: Pocket Books.

Gillham, J and Reivich, K (2004). Cultivating Optimism in Childhood and Adolescence. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 1, 146-163.

Additional References

Abramson, L. Y., Seligman, M. E. P., & Teasdale, J. D. (1978). Learned helplessness: Critique and reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 49–74.

Bowlby, J. 1969. Attachment and loss. New York: Basic Books

Ciarrocchi, J.W., Dy – Liacco, G.S. & Deneke . E. (2008). Gods or rituals? Relational faith, spiritual discontent, and religious practices as predictors of hope and optimism. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3(2), 120 - 136.

Cicchetti, D., and S. L. Toth. 1998. The development of depression in children and adolescents. American Psychologist 53:221-42.

Davidson, R. J. 1998. Affective style and affective disorders: Perspectives from affective neuroscience. Cognition and Emotion 12:307-30.

Davidson, R. J. 1999. Neuropsychological perspectives on affective styles and their cognitive consequences. In Handbook of cognition and emotion, edited by T. Dagleish and M. J. Power, 103-23. New York: John Wiley.

Dekel, R., S. Hantman, K. Ginzburg, & Z. Solomon (2006). The cost of caring? Social workers in hospitals confront ongoing terrorism. British Journal of Social Work, 37(7), 1247 - 1261.

Dunn, D. S. (1996). Well-being following amputation: Salutary effects of positive meaning, optimism, and control. Rehabilitation psychology, 41, 285-302.

Erikson, E. H. 1963. Childhood and society. New York: Norton.

Gibb, B. E., L. B. Alloy, L. Y. Abramson, D. T. Rose, W. G. Whitehouse, P. Donovan, M. E. Hogan, J. Cronholm, and S. Teirney. 2001. History of childhood maltreatment, negative cognitive styles, and episodes of depression in adulthood. Cognitive Therapy & Research 25:425-46.

Gold, E. R. 1986. Long-term effects of sexual victimization in childhood: An attributional approach. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 54:471-75.

Gordon, C.L and Baucom, D.H (2009). Examining the Individual Within Marriage: Personal Strenghts and Relationship Satisfaction. Personal Relationships, 16(3), 421-435.

Heck, T.A. (2006). Sacred healing of marriage: A quasi – experimental study of prayer’s effect on marital satisfaction among Catholic and Protestant Christians. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 67(1 – B), 599.

Heine, S.J. & Lehman, D.R. (1995). Cultural variation in unrealistic optimism: Does the West feel more vulnerable than the East? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(4), 595 - 607.

Held, S. B. (2002) The tyranny of the positive attitude in America: Observation and speculation. 58, 965-991.

Held, S. B (2004). The negative side of positive psychology, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 44, 9-46.

Hjelle, L., Belongia, C., & Nesser, J. (1996). Psychometric properties of the Life Orientation Test and the Attributional Style Questionnaire. Psychological Reports, 78, 507–515.

Hmieleski, K.M and Baron, R.A (2009). Entrepreneurs optimism and new venture performance: A social cognitive perspective. Academy of Managment Journal, 52(3), 473 - 488.

Kaufman, J. 1991. Depressive disorders in maltreated children. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 30:257-65.

Kirk, S and Koeske, G (1995). The fate of Optimism: A Longitudinal Study of Case Managers' Hopefulness and Subsequent Morale. Researcg on Social Work Practice, 5(1), 445-450.

Mann, T (2001). Effects of Future Writing and Optimism on Health Behaviours in HIV-Infected Women. Annuals of Behavioural Medicine, 23(1), 26-33.

Matthews E.E and Cook, P.F (2009). Relationships amoungst optimism, well - being, self - transendence, coping and social support in women during treatment for breast cancer. Psycho - Oncology, 18(7), 716 - 726.

Nolen-Hoeksema, S., J. S. Girgus, and M. E. P. Seligman. 1986. Depression in children of families in turmoil. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pennsylvania.

Park, C. L., Moore, P. J., Turner, R. A., & Adler, N. E. (1997). The roles of constructive thinking and optimism in psychological and behavioral adjustment during pregnancy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 584-592.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1984). Causal explanations as a risk factor for depression: Theory and evidence. Psychological Review, 91, 347–374.

Peterson, C., Seligman, M.E.P. and Vaillant, G. (1988). Pessimistic explanatory style as a risk factor for physical illness: A thirty-five year longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 23-27.

Peterson, C., and C. H. Moon. 1999. Avoiding catastrophic thinking. In Coping: The psychology of what works, edited by C. R. Snyder, 252-78. New York: Oxford University Press.

Peterson, C. (2000). The future of optimism. The American psychologist. 55(1), 44-55.

Plomin, R., M.F. Scheier, Bergeman, C.S., Pederson, N.L., Nesselroade, J and Mcclearn, G (1992). Optimism, Pessimism and Mental Health: A Twin/Adoption Analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 921-30.

Radcliff, N.M and Klien, W.M.P (2002). Dispositional, Unrealistic and Comparative Optimism: Differential Relations with the Knowledge and Processing of Risk Information and Beliefs about Personal Risk. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(6), 836-864.

Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1992). Effects of optimism on psychological and physical well-being: Theoretical overview and empirical update. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16, 201-228.

Schulman, P., D. Keith, and M. E. P. Seligman. 1991. Is optimism heritable? A study of twins. Behavior Research and Therapy 31:569-74.

Schulz, R., Bookwala, J., Knapp, J., et al. (1994, April 15). Pessimism and mortality in young and old recurrent cancer patients. Paper presented at the American Psychosomatic Society annual meetings, Boston, MA.

Seligman ME, Abramson LY, Semmel A, von Baeyer C. Depressive attributional style. J Abnorm Psychol. 1979;88:242-247.

Taylor, S. E., Kemeny, M. E., Aspinwall, L. G., Schneider, S. C., Rodriguez, R., & Herbert, M. (1992). Optimism, coping, psychological distress, and high-risk sexual behaviors among men at risk for AIDS. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 460-473.

Trotter, C. 1999. Working with involuntary clients. London: Sage.

Seligman, M. E. P., K. J. Reivich, L. H. Jaycox, and J. Gillham. 1995. The optimistic child. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Snyder, C. R. 2000a. Genesis: The birth and growth of hope. In Handbook of hope: Theories, measures, and applications, edited by C. R. Snyder, 25-38. New York: Academic Press.

Sullivan, H. S. 1953. The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton.

Quayle, D, Dziurawiec, S, Roberts, C, Kane, R and Ebsworthy (2001). The Effect of an Optimism and Lifeskills Program on Depressive Symptoms in Preadolescence. Behaviour Change, 18(4), 194-203.

Watson, D., and L. A. Clark. 1984. Negative affectivity: The disposition to experience aversive emotional states. Psychological Bulletin 96:465-90.

Youssef, C. M., & Luthans, F. (2007). Positive psychology behaviour in the workplace: The impact of hope, optimism and resilience. Journal of Management, 33, 774-800.