Optimism and Pessimism in Business Leaders1


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    This article is based on a thesis submitted by the first author to the Division of Advanced Studies and Research at the University of Cincinnati in partial fulfillment of requirements for the M.A. degree.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to William N. Dember, Department of Psychology, Loc #0376, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0376.


Male business leaders responded to 3 instruments, the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI-SELF), the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI), and a measure of optimism and pessimism (O/P). Approximately 5 to 6 (range = 3 to 9) of each of the 48 leaders' direct reports rated their leaders on the LPI (LPI-OBSERVER) and also responded to the O/P instrument. As predicted, both the leaders and their direct reports had lower mean scores on pessimism than a normative group; neither group differed from the norm on optimism. The leader KAI scores were negatively correlated with pessimism, and positively, though not significantly so, with optimism. Optimism was positively correlated with 2 factors of the LPI-OBSERVER, but pessimism was not correlated with any of the five LPI factors.