Optimism as a predictor of the effects of laboratory‐induced stress on fears and hope

Authors:
Shaul Kimhi, Yohanan Eshel, Eldad Shahar
Published Online:
03 May 2012
DOI:
10.1080/00207594.2012.676181
Pages:
641-648
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 4

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The objective of the current study is to explore optimism as a predictor of personal and collective fear, as well as hope, following laboratory‐induced stress. Students (N = 107; 74 female, 33 male) were assigned randomly to either the experimental (stress—political violence video clip) or the control group (no‐stress—nature video clip). Questionnaires of fear and hope were administered immediately after the experiment (Time 1) and 3 weeks later (Time 2). Structural equation modeling indicated the following: (a) Optimism significantly predicted both fear and hope in the stress group at Time 1, but not in the no‐stress group. (b) Optimism predicted hope but not fear at Time 2 in the stress group. (c) Hope at Time 1 significantly predicted hope at Time 2, in both the stress and the no‐stress groups. (d) Gender did not predict significantly fear at Time 1 in the stress group, despite a significant difference between genders. This study supports previous studies indicating that optimism plays an important role in people's coping with stress. However, based on our research the data raise the question of whether optimism, by itself, or environmental stress, by itself, may accurately predict stress response.

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