Motivation and emotion/Book/2013/Optimism/measuring optimism

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Measuring Optimism

Dispositional optimism is often assessed using self-report questionnaires such as the revised version of the Life Orientation Test (LOT-R) and the Optimism & Pessimism Scale (Dember et al., 1989; as cited by Peterson, 2000). The LOT-R is designed to assess whether respondents generally expect outcomes in their lives to be positive or negative (Peterson, 2000). Click here and take the LOT-R yourself!. The Optimism & Pessimism Scale is similar, yet provides independent scores for optimism and pessimism under the view that they are not two traits constituting the two ends of the same spectrum, but are two independent constructs which are moderately to strongly related (Forgeard & Seligman, 2012). As we will see, the debate of whether pessimism and optimism are bi-polar opposites is still an important discussion in the literature.

Explanatory style is also typically measured with self-report questionnaires. The Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) is the most commonly used, and presents respondents with hypothetical events and asks them to provide "the one major cause" of each event if it were to happen to them. The respondents then rate each cause along the dimensions of internality, stability, and globality. The ratings are then combined, with bad-event ratings and good-event ratings kept independent (Peterson, 2000). Another common procedure called the Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE) uses naturally occurring written or spoken material. Researchers identify explanations for bad events, "extract" them from the material, and present them to judges who rate them along the scales of the ASQ (Peterson, 2000). An advantage of this technique is that any spoken or written material can be used, so that material gathered early in long-term studies can be compared to individuals long-term outcomes (Peterson, 2000).

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