Dispositional Optimism and Primary and Secondary Appraisal of a Stressor: Controlling for Confounding Influences and Relations to Coping and Psychological and Physical Adjustment

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that dispositional optimism (M. F. Scheier & C. S. Carver, 1985) is linked to both coping and adjustment but has failed to consider the potential influence of appraisals in the stress and coping process (R. S. Lazarus & S. Folkman, 1984). The present study examined the influence of optimism and appraisals on coping and psychological and physical adjustment in 726 college students. Results from correlational analyses indicated that stress-related appraisals were associated with optimism, coping, and adjustment. Comparative analyses further indicated that optimists (n = 109) and pessimists (n = 110) differed significantly in secondary (but not primary) appraisal, coping, and adjustment. In addition, optimism was found to add significant incremental validity in predicting adjustment, beyond what was accounted for by appraisals and coping. The implications of these findings for understanding the influence of dispositional optimism are discussed.

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