Optimism Is Universal: Exploring the Presence and Benefits of Optimism in a Representative Sample of the World
Article first published online: 12 APR 2013
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Personality
Volume 81, Issue 5, pages 429–440, October 2013
How to Cite
Gallagher, M. W., Lopez, S. J. and Pressman, S. D. (2013), Optimism Is Universal: Exploring the Presence and Benefits of Optimism in a Representative Sample of the World. Journal of Personality, 81: 429–440. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12026
- Issue published online: 4 SEP 2013
- Article first published online: 12 APR 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 18 DEC 2012 05:25AM EST
Current theories of optimism suggest that the tendency to maintain positive expectations for the future is an adaptive psychological resource associated with improved well-being and physical health, but the majority of previous optimism research has been conducted in industrialized nations. The present study examined (a) whether optimism is universal, (b) what demographic factors predict optimism, and (c) whether optimism is consistently associated with improved subjective well-being and perceived health worldwide. The present study used representative samples of 142 countries that together represent 95% of the world's population. The total sample of 150,048 individuals had a mean age of 38.28 (SD = 16.85) and approximately equal sex distribution (51.2% female). The relationships between optimism, subjective well-being, and perceived health were examined using hierarchical linear modeling. Results indicated that most individuals and most countries worldwide are optimistic and that higher levels of optimism are associated with improved subjective well-being and perceived health worldwide. The present study provides compelling evidence that optimism is a universal phenomenon and that the associations between optimism and improved psychological functioning are not limited to industrialized nations.