International Optimism: Correlates and Consequences of Dispositional Optimism across 61 Countries

Baranski, E. et al. (2020). “International Optimism: Correlates and Consequences of Dispositional Optimism across 61 Countries”. Journal of Personality. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12582

Objective

The current exploratory study sought to examine dispositional optimism, or the general expectation for positive outcomes, around the world.

Method

Dispositional optimism and possible correlates were assessed across 61 countries (N = 15,185; mean age = 21.92; 77% female). Mean-level differences in optimism were computed along with their relationships with individual and country-level variables.

Results

Worldwide, mean optimism levels were above the midpoint of the scale. Perhaps surprisingly, country-level optimism was negatively related to gross domestic product per capita, population density, and democratic norms and positively related to income inequality and perceived corruption. However, country-level optimism was positively related to projected economic improvement. Individual-level optimism was positively related to individual well-being within every country, although this relationship was less strong in countries with challenging economic and social circumstances.

Conclusions

While individuals around the world are generally optimistic, societal characteristics appear to affect the degree to which their optimism is associated with psychological well-being, sometimes in seemingly anomalous ways.

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