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Support positive psychology research and get to know yourself a bit better!

written by Ivan Vasilev April 24, 2014

Ivan Vasilev is a graduate psychology student at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. His research interests lie in the interaction between optimism and well-being, motivation, and leadership. Ivan is fascinated about integrating positive psychology concepts and interventions in organizational life to foster motivation, cohesion, and creativity at the workplace. Ivan's articles are here.



 

 

Interested in contributing to psychology research and learning more about yourself? This study being conducted by the Institute of Psychology at the University of Heidelberg focuses on how different life perspectives and well-being measures relate to each other. More specifically, it aims at investigating how many empirically distinct kinds of optimism there are, and what positive and negative effects they have on psychological well-being and human health.

You can access the survey through the following link:

Life Perspectives Study

As a reward for supporting the research by filling out the rather long questionnaire, the study gives you the opportunity to receive a personal feedback report on your scores on scientific scales assessing personality characteristics related to life perspectives and well-being.

Research background: Even though “optimistic” and “pessimistic” are terms regularly used for the description of people in everyday life, in psychology research there is still no agreement of what “optimism” exactly is. Some research groups see it as a general positive expectancy of the future, others as a specific way people explain the causes of things that happen to them. A third viewpoint focuses more on whether individuals tend to focus on positive or negative aspects of situation when both are given. Finally, another stream of research speaks of “unrealistic optimism” in risk assessment and its possible consequences.

While some of these concepts have been very widely researched, there is still little understanding to what extent they reflect the same underlying processes or how they possibly differ from each other. Answering this question may reveal important insights on which aspects should be trained and how their development can be better approached.

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5 comments

Halette April 24, 2014 - 2:31 pm

I think it is great to offer readers the opportunity to advance research in the field! I am also hopeful that the opportunity helps the researchers too.

Reply
Seph Fontane Pennock April 24, 2014 - 3:17 pm

Hi there Ivan!

Thank you for today’s article.

I totally agree with you that describing optimism as ‘a positive outlook on life’ just doens’t cut it, especially in research.

The lack of agreement of what optimism really is, creates a need for as many solid (but different!) definitions as possible, so that we can eventually get to the core of this phenomenon.

So essentially, the different kinds of optimism that you have identified are:
-dispositional optimism: a general positive expectancy of the future
-explanatory style: a specific way people explain the causes of things that happen to them
-several sorts of biases (self-serving, negativity, etc.):focus on positive or negative aspects of situation
-big optimism: a.k.a. “unrealistic optimism” in risk assessment and its possible consequences

Dictionary.com even uses the word ‘doctrine’ in its definition of optimism by defining optimism as ‘the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds’.

Personally, I think optimism has to be measured by defining a clear set of beliefs and attitudes that optimism consists of, then weighing each of these beliefs and attitudes(which is difficult, but not impossible)and then performing a survey like the one you’re promoting.

I’d love to hear more about the exact methodology of this master thesis.

All the best!

Cheers,
Seph

Reply
Stephanie Noon April 25, 2014 - 5:47 am

Hi Ivan,
Congratulations, this is a wonderful piece of research. I tried to take the survey but the ‘continue’ button appears to be inactive (ie, nothing happens when I try to start the survey). I just thought that I should bring that to your attention because I’m happy to complete the survey but I am unable to.

Regards,
Stephanie

Reply
Ivan Vasilev April 25, 2014 - 12:28 pm

Thank you all for the positive feedback and the kind words!

@Stephanie, actually the button should be working fine. You could maybe make sure you are using the latest version of your browser or try opening opening the link with another one?

@Seph, thank you for your input. You seem to be quite well-acquainted with the topic and you recognized well some of the constructs included in the study! The definition from dictionary.com is also an interesting one, even though a bit more extreme and further away from our intuitive understanding of what optimism is. If you would like to learn a bit more about the methodology of the survey, you are welcome to contact me at ivan.og.vasilev@gmail.com

Reply
Ivan Vasilev May 4, 2014 - 11:34 am

Hi eveyone,

A big “Thank you!” to all of you who participated in the study and/or shared the link! The interest that came from the PPND community was impressive and I really appreciate your support!

The survey is now coming to and end and the data analysis is about to start. This also means that soon you are also going to receive your personal feedback!

I am already looking forward to having a closer look into the data and gaining a better understanding of the concept(s) of optimism. In case you are also curious, another small article might appear on the website this coming summer 🙂

Greetings,
Ivan

Reply

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