PSYC 3690 Chapter Notes -Pessimism, Extraversion And Introversion, Social Skills

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Published on 14 Apr 2013
School
University of Guelph
Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 3690
Page:
of 3
Article #: 24
Title: Optimism
- optimists are people who expect good things to happen to them; pessimists are people
who expect bad things to happen to them
- they differ in how they approach problems and challenges, and they differ in the
manner and success with which they cope with adversity
Expectancy-Value Models of Motivation
- expectancy-value theories begin with the assumption that behaviour is organized
around the pursuit of goals
- goals are states or actions that people view as either desirable or undesirable
- people try to fit their behaviours to what they see as desirable
- the more important a goal is to someone, the greater is its value within the personʼs
motivation
- without having a goal that matters, people have no reason to act
- the second conceptual element is expectancy - a sense of confidence or doubt about
the attainability of the goal value
- if the person lacks confidence, there will be no action
Goals Vary in Breadth and Abstractness
- goals vary in specificity (general to particular, concrete to specific)
- expectancies may have a comparable range of variation
- expectancy-based theories generally suggest either explicitly or implicitly that
behaviour is predicted best when the level of expectancy fits that of the behaviour that
is being predicted
- the same principles that apply to focused confidence also apply to generalized sense
of confidence that we think of as optimism
- when confronting a challenge, optimists should tend to take a posture of confidence
and persistence
- differences in how people approach adversity have important implications for the
manner in which people cope with stress
Variations in Conceptions and Assessment
- there are at least 2 ways to think about expectancies and how to measure them
- one approach measures expectancies directly, asking people to indicate the extent to
which they believe that their future outcomes will be good or bad
- another approach relies on the assumption that peopleʼs expectancies for the future
derive from their view of the causes of events in the past
- if explanations for past failures focus on causes that are stable, the personʼs
expectancy for the future in the same domain will be bad
- if attributions for past failures focus on causes that are unstable, then the outlook for
the future may be brighter
- if explanations for past failures are global, expectancy for the future across many
domains will be bad
- if explanations are specific, the outlook for other areas may be brighter
- attributions also vary in breadth
- optimism and pessimism are defined by flexible vs rigid patterns of explanations
- they share the theme that expectations help determine peopleʼs actions and
experiences
Optimism and Subjective Well-Being
- optimists are people who expect to have positive outcomes, even when things are
hard, this confidence should yield a mix of feelings that is relatively positive
- pessimists expect negative outcomes, this doubt should yield a greater tendency
toward negative feelings (anxiety, anger, guilt)
- optimists do experience less distress than pessimists when dealing with difficulties in
their lives
Optimism, Pessimism, and Coping
- this sections considers strategies that optimists and pessimists tend to use
- people who are confident about the future exert continuing effort, even when dealing
with serious adversity
- people who are doubtful are more likely to try to push the adversity away as thought
they can somehow escape it by wishful thinking
- optimism is related to problem-focused coping, especially when the stressful situation
is controllable
- optimism is also related to the use of positive reframing (when the situation is
uncontrollable) and with the tendency to accept the situations reality
- optimists use more problem-centred coping than pessimists, they also use a variety of
emotion-focused coping techniques
- pessimists reported tendencies toward overt denial and substance abuse, strategies
that lessen their awareness of the problem - avoidant copers
- avoidance coping related to poorer judgment, active coping related to better judgment
- it is noteworthy that optimists turn toward acceptable in uncontrollable situations,
whereas pessimists turn more to the use of active attempts at denial
- the acceptance in mind is a willingness to admit that the problem exists or that an
event happened, not talking about the stoic resignation, a fatalistic acceptance of the
negative consequences to which the problem or event might lead
Promoting Well-Beng
- proactive processes that promote good health and well-being rather than just reacting
to adversity
- people who are optimists may take active steps to ensure the positive quality of their
future - same as engaging in problem-focused coping, except there is no particular
stressor threatening the person
Pessimism and Health Defeating Behaviour
- pessimists are less likely tot make efforts to ensure their well-being
- pessimists engage in behaviours that reflect a tendency to give up
- substance use, excessive alcohol consumption, distracting themselves, sleeping
- it is commonly assumed that depression is that best indicator of suicide risk, but
pessimism is actually a stronger predictor of this act, the ultimate disengagement from
life
Is Optimism Always Better Than Pessimism
- there is remarkably little evidence that optimists are ever worse off than pessimists
- optimism may be potentially damaging
- too much optimism might lead people to ignore a real threat until it is too late or might
lead people to overestimate their ability to deal with an adverse situation, resulting in
poorer coping
- another possibility is that the optimistʼs worldview might be more vulnerable than that
of a pessimist to the shattering impact of a traumatic event
- adversity confirms the pessimistʼs worldview
Can Pessimists Become Optimists?
- twin research suggests that optimism is subject to genetic influence
- optimism relates both to neuroticism and extraversion, both are genetically influenced
- another potential influence on peopleʼs outlook on life is early childhood experience
- the more firmly shaped is that foundation, the more enduring its influence
- if pessimism is deeply embedded in a personʼs life, can it be changed? that answer is
a causes yes
- one of the ways to turn a pessimist into an optimist is cognitive-behavioural therapies
- the goal of these is to change the cognitions, make them more positive and thereby
reduce distress and allow renewed efforts
- another method is personal efficacy training, focused on increasing specific kinds of
competence e.g. social skill training
Conclusions
- there are clear benefits to thinking positive
- expectancies influence the way in which people confront situations and influence the
success with which people deal with them

Document Summary

Optimists are people who expect good things to happen to them; pessimists are people who expect bad things to happen to them. They differ in how they approach problems and challenges, and they differ in the manner and success with which they cope with adversity. Expectancy-value theories begin with the assumption that behaviour is organized around the pursuit of goals. Goals are states or actions that people view as either desirable or undesirable. People try to t their behaviours to what they see as desirable. The more important a goal is to someone, the greater is its value within the person s motivation. Without having a goal that matters, people have no reason to act. The second conceptual element is expectancy - a sense of con dence or doubt about the attainability of the goal value. If the person lacks con dence, there will be no action. Goals vary in speci city (general to particular, concrete to speci c)