How Dispositional Optimists and Pessimists Evaluate their Past, Present and Anticipated Future Life Satisfaction: A Lifespan Approach
Article first published online: 8 MAY 2012
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Personality
Volume 27, Issue 2, pages 185–199, March/April 2013
How to Cite
Busseri, M. A. (2013), How Dispositional Optimists and Pessimists Evaluate their Past, Present and Anticipated Future Life Satisfaction: A Lifespan Approach. Eur. J. Pers., 27: 185–199. doi: 10.1002/per.1854
- Issue published online: 18 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 8 MAY 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 FEB 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 7 FEB 2012
- Manuscript Received: 30 NOV 2010
- dispositional optimism;
- life satisfaction;
- lifespan development
Dispositional optimism is typically conceptualized with respect to generalized positive expectancies for personal future outcomes. The present work draws on lifespan development theory to evaluate how dispositional optimists and pessimists from across the lifespan evaluate their past, present and anticipated future life satisfaction (LS). Using data from an American probability sample (n = 3871, ages = 30–84 years, 55% female), I compared dispositional optimists and pessimists across six age decades. Subjective LS trajectories reflected in mean trends in ratings of past, present and future LS were contoured by lifestage, revealing inclining trajectories among young dispositional optimists and pessimists and declining trajectories among older optimists and pessimists. After adjusting for age-specific normative trends, however, differences between dispositional optimists and pessimists in subjective LS trajectories were consistent across lifestage, revealing a single dissociative pattern wherein optimists rated their past, present and anticipated future LS more positively than did pessimists. Of the three temporal perspectives, evaluations of present (rather than past or future) LS were most consistently related to dispositional optimism. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.