Optimism, Pessimism and Physical Health

Igor Kardum, Jasna Hudek-Knežević, Nada Krapić


The effects of optimism and pessimism on physical health as well as potential mechanisms through which they exert their effects are reviewed in this article. The first part includes conceptual bases of optimism and pessimism, their measurement and measurement problems. Further, the most important empirical results about the effects of optimism and pessimism on mortality and other specific indices of physical health are shown. The relationships of optimism and pessimism with physical health indices in patients with HIV/AIDS are reviewed in more detail. Several potential mechanisms through which optimism and pessimism may affect physical health are described: cardiovascular reactivity, immune changes, health behaviors, stressful experience and coping with stress. Finally, some important theoretical and methodological problems of research on the relationship between optimism, pessimism and physical health are presented.


optimism; pessimism; physical health; health behaviors


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