Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_706-1


Definition and Conceptualization

Optimism describes a positive orientation toward the future. Optimists are people who have the habitual tendency to expect positive future outcomes even when difficulties arise (Scheier and Carver 1992).


Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun,

one’s feet moving forward.

Nelson Mandela

Although the roots of a positive mindset and its consequences have been a topic of philosophical discussion for centuries, the empirical study of optimism began with Scheier and Carver’s (1985) seminal work on outcome expectancies. Optimism has been understood as “the extent to which people hold generalized favorable expectancies for their future” (Carver et al. 2010, p. 879). A host of studies have demonstrated that optimism is associated with...


Dispositional Optimism Optimistic Thinking Positive Illusions Strategic Optimism Unrealistic Optimism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BambergBambergGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • John F. Rauthmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA