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Journal of Personality

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Vol 82 (6 Issues in 2014)
Edited by: Howard Tennen
Print ISSN: 0022-3506 Online ISSN: 1467-6494
Impact Factor: 2.73

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Law & Society, Psychology, Wiley-Blackwell


April 22, 2013

How Universal is Optimism? Why the Irish Have More Hope for the Future than Egyptians

Research into optimism has found that the Irish and Brazilians are the most hopeful for the future, while people in Egypt and Lebanon are the least sanguine. The study, published in the Journal of Personality, analyzed 150,048 individuals from 142 countries to examine relationships between optimism, subjective well-being, perceived health, and hopes for the future.

After ranking nations in a scale of optimism, the countries with the five highest mean expectations for the future were Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United States. The countries with the five lowest mean expectations for the future were Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti, Bulgaria, and Lebanon.

The findings show that most individuals in most countries worldwide are optimistic and that higher levels of optimism are associated with improved subjective well-being and perceived health worldwide.

“Our study provides compelling evidence that optimism is a universal phenomenon, that optimism is associated with improved perceptions of physical health and improved subjective well-being worldwide,” said Matthew Gallagher. “Our results therefore suggest that optimism is not merely a benefit of living in industrialized nations, but reflects a universal characteristic that is associated with and potentially may serve to promote improved psychological functioning worldwide.”