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Socioeconomic Status in Childhood and Adulthood: Associations With Dispositional Optimism and Pessimism Over a 21-Year Follow-Up


  • This research was financially supported by the Academy of Finland (50907SA, 53392, 34316, 106424, and 104769), the Eemil Aaltonen Foundation. This research was also facilitated by NIH grants HL065111, HL065112, HL076858, and HL076852.

  • Kati Heinonen, Katri Räikkönen, Laura Pulkki, and Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Finland; Karen A. Matthews, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Michael F. Scheier, Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA; Olli T. Raitakari, Department of Clinical Physiology, University of Turku, Finland.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kati Heinonen, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box.9, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. E-mail:


ABSTRACT We examined whether dispositional optimism and pessimism (overall LOT-R and optimism and pessimism component scores) of 694 adults aged 24 and 27 were associated with socioeconomic status (SES) measured concurrently and in childhood at ages 3 and 6. SES measures included education, occupational status and unemployment, and income. Concurrent adulthood SES was associated with the overall LOT-R and optimism and the pessimism component scores. Childhood family SES predicted overall LOT-R and pessimism component scores, even after controlling statistically for the adulthood SES. Social mobility between SES of family of origin and current SES also influenced the scores. The current findings suggest that the foundation of dispositional optimism and pessimism is related to early SES of the family.

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