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Do Optimists Have Better Lives? A Quasi-Experimental Optimism, Life Satisfaction, and Quality of Life Study


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DO OPTIMISTS HAVE BETTER LIVES? A QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL OPTIMI SM, LIFE SATISFACTION, AND QUALITY-OF-LIFE STUDY By CHARIS BROWN A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Charis Brown

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To Dr. Christine Stopka.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS There are many people I would like to tha nk for their assistance in completing my masters thesis. I would like to begin with my chair, Dr. Christin e Stopka. Without her unwavering support and enthusiasm I may have never had the confidence and motivation to finish my thesis. I also thank her for believing in me, even when my ambitious timetable was unorthodox and daunting. She al ways took the time to offer the advice, materials, and encouragement I needed, despite her own hectic sc hedule. Dr. Stopka was my rock during my years at the University of Florida as a graduate student, and she has touched my life in many ways. I would also like to thank Dr. Pete Giacobbi for all of his help with statistical analyses and research questions. I would like to thank the other member of my thesis committee, Dr. Fagerberg, as well as Dr. Fleming for taking time and serving on my committee at the last minute, wh en scheduling got difficult. In addition, I would like to mention the credit deserved by my family and friends. They offered support to me just when I need ed it, and their knowledge and assistance has been invaluable. I deeply thank ever yone who gave me help and support. iv

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................vii ABSTRACT .....................................................................................................................viii INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................... 1 Related Research and Theory ......................................................................................2 Purpose ........................................................................................................................9 Hypothesis .................................................................................................................10 METHODS ........................................................................................................................11 Research Design ........................................................................................................11 Participants and Setting .............................................................................................11 Procedures .................................................................................................................12 Measures ....................................................................................................................12 Data Analysis .............................................................................................................16 RESULTS ..........................................................................................................................18 DISCUSSION ....................................................................................................................21 Summary ....................................................................................................................23 Conclusion .................................................................................................................24 APPENDIX INFORMED CONSENT ...................................................................................................26 DEMOGRAPHICS QUESIONNAIRE .............................................................................28 LIFE ORIENTATION TEST ............................................................................................29 QUALITY-OF-LIFE SCALE ............................................................................................30 SATISFACTION WITH LIFE SCALE .............................................................................31 v

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LIST OF REFERENCES ...................................................................................................32 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............................................................................................38 vi

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 Life Orientation Test categories ...............................................................................13 2 Quality-of-life categories in five domains ...............................................................15 3 Satisfaction With Life Scale score ranges ................................................................16 4 Descriptive statistics .................................................................................................19 5 Pearson product-moment correlation coe fficients for the relationship of Qualityof-life Scale and Satisfacti on With Life Scale (N = 367) ........................................20 vii

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Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science DO OPTIMISTS HAVE BETTER LIVES? A QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL OPTIMI SM, LIFE SATISFACTION, AND QUALITY-OF-LIFE STUDY By Charis Brown May 2006 Chair: Christine Stopka Major Department: Health Education and Behavior Deficits exist in the research base that links optimism with life satisfaction and quality of life. Although all th ree of the above constructs are widely studied in their respective fields, optimism and life satisfacti on seem to be used more diversely than quality of life. Using the genera l populations quality of life in research has been severely neglected in favor of populati ons with chronic illnesses. In addition, optimism, while a respected and widely used construct, is sel dom used to assess indi viduals more global perceptions of life. It is mo stly used in describing specifi c situations and perceptions. For these reasons, our purpose was to discern whether a causal link exists between optimism and life satisfaction and quality of life scores in a large university setting. Participants were undergraduate students at a large southeastern university. Optimism (the independent variable) was assessed using Sc heier and Carvers Life Orientation Test (LOT). The dependent variables (quality of life and life satisfaction) were measured viii

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using Flanagans Quality-of-life Scale and Diener and colleagues Satisfaction With Life Scale. The scales were administered in th e form of a pencil-a nd-paper survey to 367 students. Two separate one-way independent groups analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were conducted to determine whether optimis ts and pessimists differed across scores on the Quality of Life Scale, and to examin e whether optimists and pessimists differed across scores on the Satisfaction With Life S cale. Students identified as optimists scored significantly higher on quality of life and lif e satisfaction scales than did students identified as pessimists. ix

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INTRODUCTION A general consensus is that optimists l ook at specific situations more positively than pessimists do. Does this situation-specific outlook generalize to peoples overall life satisfaction and quality of life? Are optimists actually more likely than pessimists to see their entire lives as being satisfying and having better quality? Optimism is defined as the inclination to expect favorable life outcomes (Marshall et al., 1992, p. 1067). This definition implies that optimism is a way of seeing future events (and perhaps present situat ions) in a certain positive light. Whether optimism is situation-specific or generalizes to larger states of being is unclear. Thus, research is needed to discern whether optim ism influences a more-complete view of an individuals entire life not just a specific moment or situation. According to Lazarus (2002, p. 667), The pr ime objective of basic research is to understand life and the world in which it exists. Although optimism, quality of life, and life satisfaction are we ll known and widely studied constr ucts, there is a deficit in research concerning linking the three. Quality of life studies tend to focus on people with chronic illnesses and life satis faction has broader applications, yet neither quality of life nor life satisfaction ha s been widely studied with rega rd to physically and mentally healthy persons. Optimism and pessimism are thought of as relevant dimensions of personality and are often studi ed in relation to stress and coping but research linking optimism and pessimism to a more general outlo ok is lacking. Optimism, quality of life, and life satisfaction have ne ver been combined to fi nd common ground. It is worth 1

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2 investigating whether optimists only perc eive circumstances with more positive conceptual wording than pessimists. If optim ists and pessimists have feel the same about their lives and merely use different words for the same feelings, there should be no difference in their self-reported quality of lif e or life satisfaction scores. If pessimists merely use more-negative words to describe th e same baseline emotional level, then their lives are not actually less satisfying or of a lower quality than optimists lives. Related Research and Theory Optimists are aware that the che rries of life have pits, but they are prepared to remove them Their minds do not dwell on the pits, but on the sweetness of the cherries. --Anonymous Optimism. A broad research base exists concerning optimism and pessimism, especially regarding its influence on other as pects of life. Dispositional optimism affects physical and psychological well-being (Schei er et al., 1994), and accounts for individual differences in psychological well-bei ng (Turkum, 2005). The more optimistic the individual, the lower the individuals perceived stress (Segerstrom et al., 1998). People with higher levels of optimism show lower levels of perceived stress (Turkum, 2005). Optimism has been negatively correlated with depression in pregnant women (Carver & Gaines, 1987). Optimistic women respond better to unsuccessful in vitro fertilization (Litt et al., 1992). Optimists are also less likely to suffer from postpartum depression (Carver & Gaines, 1987). Optimistic students adju st more easily and with less distress to the first semester of colleg e (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992). St udents who are under stress cope better and are more successful later, in their careers, if they are optimists rather than pessimists (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992). The be lief is becoming more widespread that stress is a major causal factor in illness (DeLongis et al., 1988). Optimists show lower average ambulatory blood pressure (Raikkone n et al., 1999), and recover more quickly

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3 from coronary artery bypass surgery (Scheier et al., 1989). A variety of studies show that optimism can influence the effectiveness of tr eatments for AIDS and recovery rates from heart attacks (Carifio & Rhodes, 2002). A commonly used and accepted measurement tool for measuring optimism is the Life Orie ntation Test (LOT; Sc heier & Carver, 1985), which is a measure of the extent to which individuals possess favorable expectations regarding life outcomes (M arshall et al., 1992, p. 1068). Quality of life. Quality of life (QOL) has generated great interest from researchers and theorists alike in many diverse fields (Zullig, 2005).The earliest commonly reported quality of life conceptualizat ion was by Aristotle, who cons idered the good life, or happiness, a result of a life of virtue (Morgan, 1992). More recently, psychologists and sociologists have described qua lity of life in terms of an individuals expectations and goals in life, and whether thes e aspirations are realized (A nderson & Burckhardt, 1999). As time has passed, definitions of quality of life have taken several different routes. The concept of QOL has been identified as very complex, and to further complicate the matter, many studies do not operationally define their conceptualization of quality of life, as in a literature review of 75 articles, only 15, or 11% of re viewed articles with the term quality of life in the title conceptually defined QOL (Gill & Feinstein, 1994). One of the reasons, among others, for the overall conf usion with defining quality of life stems from different authors approaching the co mplicated term from a range of varied perspectives (Leplege & Hunt, 1997). Philo sophers examine the nature of human existence, economists focus on the allocation of resources to achieve alternative goals, nurses, while taking a broad view of quality of life as is dictated by their disciplines

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4 holism, are waylaid by disease-specific issu es, and physicians focus solely on physical health and illness-related variab les (Anderson & Burckhardt, 1999). The seemingly most common definition of quality of life is an individuals experienced personal satisfaction with areas of life that are considered important to the individual (Bowling, 1997). In 1990, Oleson de fined quality of life as the subjective perception of happiness or sa tisfaction with life in domai ns of importance to the individual. Anderson and Burckha rdt (1999) defined quality of life using a similar idea; individuals perceptions of satisfaction w ith life in various domains (p. 304). Anderson and Burckhardt (1999) argued that qu ality of life is often confused with concepts such as symptoms, mood, functional status and gene ral health status. Although there are similarities between quality of life and the above concepts, it remains unique and distinct from other health-related concepts. Although it has previously b een within the realm of mental and psychological health and wellness, modern health care has evidenced an increased interest in evaluating quality of life as a treatment outcome (Archenholtz & Burckhardt, 1999). The World Health Organization defines heal th as not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but as a concept that incorporates notions of well-being or wellness in all areas of life: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and soci al, and therefore transforms health from a more narrowed physical view to a broad concep t that encompasses the entire spectrum of wellness and disease (Ande rson & Burckhardt, 1999). Cantril (1965) created a scale based on subjective, individual standards that participants in his study crea ted about the self and the e nvironment, therefore guiding behavior and defining satisfac tion. He viewed his central pr oblem as learning what these

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5 standards are in a persons own terms and not by our own standards. To remedy this, Cantril allowed respondents to define his/ her own assumptions, perceptions, goals, and values. As a result, he found that Americans major concerns (expressed in over 10% of responses) consisted of mainte nance of the status quo, old ag e, leisure time, personal and family health, children, a decent standard of living, and housing. Other documented concerns included worries about war, c ontinued employment, working conditions, resolution of religious problems, attaining emotional maturity, being accepted, and having modern conveniences. These findings help illustrate that Americans experienced a wide variation in individualized concerns, covering all facets of life. Later, Dalkey et al (1972) concluded that a similarly broad spectrum of situations determine the quality of peopl es lives. Dalkey et al hypo thesized that, since they believed that the basic components of QOL ar e shared by all people, the emphasis placed on these components varied among individuals because of value judgments concerning the amount of each component they were currently receiving. Through their Delphi studies, the researchers identified thirteen ch aracteristics rated by re spondents: love and affection; self-respect and self-satisfaction; peace of mind; sexual satisfaction; challenge and stimulation; social acceptance; achiev ement and job satisfac tion; individuality; involvement and participation; comfort, economic well-being and good health; novelty and change; dominance, superiorit y, and independence; and privacy. Within the same decades as the two previously mentioned studies, other investigations were also examining the qua lity of life concept (Andrews & Withey, 1976, Shin & Johnson, 1978, Michalos, 1986). These studies encompassed slightly different ideals describing the definition and domains of quality of life, however, they did develop

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6 similar definitions concerni ng the subjectivity to the pe rsons perspective who is describing their quality of life, the numerous domains or dimensions of life that influence the global perception of quality of life, and contentment with ones life being determined by whether ones perceived expectations, need s, and/or aspirations are actually being achieved. Revicki et al. (2000, p. 888) defined QOL as a broad range of human experiences related to ones overall well-being. It imp lies value based on subjective functioning in comparison with personal expectations and is defined by subjective experiences, states and perceptions. QOL, by its very nature, is idiosyncratic to the individual, but intuitively meaningful and understandable to most peopl e. Although it has b een considered of particular interest for the health sciences for years, as a United States federal mandate concerning cancer treatment over two decades a go encouraged the exploration of similar outcome measures for health care (Jo hnson & Temple, 1985), QOL continues to be somewhat controversial, as whether it is an appropriate outcome variable for the health care disciplines is still being explored in recent research (Anders on & Burckhardt, 1999). In the mid-1970s, development of the Quality-of-life Scale (QOLS; Flanagan, 1978) was undertaken by an American psychologist named John Flanagan. Approximately 3,000 Americans from varyi ng backgrounds, ethnic groups, and ages were asked to contribute experi ences that were important or satisfying to them. Flanagan purposefully included ethnic minorities, seni or citizens, low socioeconomic groups, and rural inhabitants, because, as Flanagan (1978, p. 138) stated, the purpose of using the regional samples and diverse groups was not to obtain accurate estimates of frequencies but rather to insure that differeing points of view and types of experience were

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7 represented. A scale of 15 items was devel oped representing five domains Flanagans team derived from over 6,000 critical in cidents (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003). After developing the 15-item scale, Flanagan surveyed 3,000 people across the nation aged 30, 50, and 70, using 5-point scales of needs met and importance. The results revealed that the majority of partic ipants felt that the items were important to them, as well as confirming that the majority was satisfied that their needs were being met in all areas (Flanagan, 1982). Although the original QOLS used two five-poi nt scales of importance and needs met to determine content validity in the in itial study (Burckhardt et al, 1989), reliability of this scaling had not been reported at the time. A seven-poi nt scale with responses of delighted (7), pleased (6), mostly satisfied (5), mixed (4), mostly dissatisfied (3), unhappy (2), and ter rible (1) was adopted, as A ndrews and Crandall (1976) had suggested that the seven-point scale was more sensitive and less negatively skewed than a 5-point satisfaction scale for a quality-of-lif e assessment, probably because it allowed for a wider variation of affec tive responses to QOL items (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003). In 1981 Flanagan gave permission to adap t the scale for pati ents with chronic illnesses, as he believed that adaptations may be needed for that population, and that different scales may produce divergent resu lts (Flanagan, 1982). A subsequent study by Burckhardt et al (1989) verified the domain structure identified by Flanagans 1978 study with an addition of a concer n with maintaining independe nce (Anderson & Burckhardt, 1999). A similar item was subsequently adde d to the scale for the adaptation for individuals with chronic illnesses indepe ndence, or the ability to do for oneself (Burckhardt et al., 2003 ). Since the adaptation, the QOLS has all but exclusively been

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8 utilized to gather information about people with chronic or in curable illnesses. Utilization of the adapted QOLS for research has become more common than research concerning the original scale, and illnesses studied in clude diabetes mellitu s and osteoarthritis (Burckhardt et al., 1989 ), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; Burckhardt et al., 1993), fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS; Anderson, 1995; Neumann & Buskila, 1997), heart disease (Motzer & Stewart, 1996), a nd spinal cord injury (Hans, 1995), among many others. In the past 2 decades, additional QOL scales have been developed. However, nearly all of these instruments actually measure what Fayers and colleagues (1997a, 1997b) have named causal indicators of quality of life rather than quality of life itself (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003). Some researchers have partially based their central conceptualization and measurement of life quality on symptoms of specific diseases (Laborde & Powers, 1980, Ferrans, 1990, Ferrell et al 1992) Albeit the fact that when several researchers have asked participants with various physical ailments about the meaning of quality of life, the same types of responses are elicited as those obtained fr om more general populations (Padilla et al., 1990, Ferrell et al., 1992, Drummond, 1995), the dispr oportionately large amount of QOL research concerning people w ith illnesses far outweighs the amount of current research on the QOL of people without chronic illn esses. Many theorists have recently argued that the QOLS should be expand ed to include the absence of physical or mental illnesses (Zullig, 2005), which indicates the possibility that the adapted QOLS has become so popular that some are unaware that the initial sc ale, before the adaptation, was

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9 designed to examine populations devoid of illn ess. It seems apparent that more QOL research is needed centering on more general populations. Life satisfaction. According to Pavot and Diener (1993), life satisfaction is a conscious cognitive judgment of ones life in which the criteria for judgment are up to the person (p. 164). Shin and Johnson (1978) defined life satisfaction as a global assessment of a persons quality of life according to his chosen criteria (p. 478). Increasingly during the past few decades, research has explored subjective well-being (SWB; Diener, 1984; Diener & Larsen, 1992), of which life satisfaction is the cognitive component (Andrews & Withey, 1976). Life Satisfaction was assessed using the Satisfaction With Life Scale (S WLS; Diener et al., 1985), and this is a currently accepted assessment tool. The limitation of many other scales used to define constructs such as life satisfaction is that the authors of the scales weight different aspects of life such as wealth or recreation. According to Di ener (1985), the judgment of how satisfied people are with their present state of affairs is based on a comparison with a standard which each individual sets for him or herself; it is not externally imposed (p. 71). The SWLS is superior to other measures in that it allows respondents, instead of researchers, to weight aspects of their own lives and in terms of th eir own values to achieve a global view of their individual life satisfaction. Purpose The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to expand the knowledge base concerning general mood, life sa tisfaction, and quality of lif e by comparing individuals optimism levels with self-reported life satisf action and quality of life, using a sample population of undergraduate students at a larg e southeastern univers ity. The independent

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10 variable was individuals optimism and pessimism scores using the LOT, and the dependent variables were scor es on the SWLS and the QOLS. Hypothesis It was hypothesized by the researcher that pa rticipants who fall in to the optimism category according to the LOT would score hi gher on the QOLS, therefore exhibiting a higher QOL. Optimists were also hypothesized to score higher on the SWLS, exhibiting a more subjectively satisfying life, than would participants falling into the pessimism category.

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METHODS Research Design The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWL S; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985), the Life Orientation Test (LOT; Sche ier & Carver, 1985), and the Quality-of-life Scale (QOLS; Flanagan, 1978) was administered to undergra duate students at a large southeastern university to m easure optimism, life satisfaction, and quality of life. A quasi-experimental design was used to estimat e the relationship of the scores from the LOT as the independent variable with scores from the SWLS and the QOLS as dependent variables. Participants and Setting Undergraduate students at a large sout heastern university were recruited subsequent to requests made by the research er. The study obtained 367 participants total. One hundred thirty-seven males and 231 fema les participated in the study. A small percentage of extra credit for classes was awarded to undergraduate students who participated in the study, as a part of optiona l extra credit points allotted by the instructor for participation in various types of co mmunity service and/or research. Cohens statistical power analysis was calculated and revealed an adequate sample size (Cohen, 1977). The measures were given in classr ooms and offices within the university. Surveys were completed individually. Both male and female participants were included in the study, and the ages of particip ants ranged from 18 to 60 years. 11

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12 Procedures Upon receiving approval from the Universitys Institutional Review Board, participants were contacted by the researcher and invited to particip ate in the study. Prior to receiving the scales, each participant was given an informed consent for and asked to carefully read and sign. The LOT, SWLS, and QOLS were combined into a paper-and-pencil survey that was photocopied and distributed by the researcher to subjects, with the order of the scales being randomized. Briefing instructions for th e participants regarding the completion of the scales was written on the cover page of each copy as well as presented verbally prior to beginning the survey. In addition, a shor t demographic questionnaire was included to gather information pertaining to age, education level, gender, and occupation. The survey took between 10 minutes and 20 minutes to complete. Upon completion of the survey, participants were debriefed by the resear cher in the form of a written letter. Measures Dispositional optimism and pessimism was measured using the Life Orientation Test (LOT; Scheier & Carver, 1985). Satisfaction with the pa rticipants life as a whole was measured using the Satisf action With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985). The participants self-reported quality of life was measured using the Quality-of-life Scale (QOLS; Flanagan, 1978). Life Orientation Test (LOT) The LOT was administered to measure each participants dispositional optimism as well as pessimism by assessing generalized positive outcome expectancies (Scheier & Carver, 1985). There are 12 total items, w ith four counting towards optimism, four counting towards pessimism, and four filler it ems (Table 1). Responses range from I

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13 agree a lot to I disagree a lot on a 5-point Likert scal e. Items scoring pessimism are scored in the same direction as optimism items, therefore when scoring high pessimism scores will indicate low actua l pessimism. Using the LOT, optimism and pessimism are considered two separate constructs, so an i ndividual will have an optimism score and a pessimism score, with predetermined scores delineated by the au thor of the scale discerning whether an individual is considered an optimist or a pessimist (Scheier & Carver, 1985). LOT has been found to show predictive validity and to be a viable instrument for assessing peoples generalized sense of optimism (Scheier et al., 1994, p. 1071). Table 1: Life Orientation Test categories (Scheier & Carver, 1985) Optimism Im always optimistic about my future. In uncertain times, I usually expect the best. I always look on the bright side of things. Im a believer in the idea that every cloud has a silver lining. Pessimism (reversescored) If something can go wrong for me, it will. I hardly every expect things to go my way. I rarely count on good things happening to me. Things never work out the way I want them to. Filler Items Its easy for me to relax. I enjoy my friends a lot. Its important for me to keep busy. I dont get upset too easily. Terrill et al (2002) found the LOT to provide a viable measure of optimism (p. 560). Internal consistency, temporal stability, and convergent and discriminant validity have been supported by internal validation st udies (Scheier & Carv er, 1985), as the LOT related, though did not appear to be redundant, with self-report m easures of social

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14 anxiety, alienation, perceived stress, depression, hopelessn ess, self-esteem, and internality (Terrill et al., 2002). Quality-Of-Life Scale (QOLS) The QOLS was administered to measure each participants self-perceived quality of life, by measuring five conceptual domains of quality of life; materi al and physical wellbeing, relationships with other people, soci al, community, and civic activities, personal development and fulfillment, and recreation (T able 2). There are 15 items in the QOLS, and responses are reported by a seven-point Likert scale, ranging from delighted to terrible. The QOLS is scored by adding up th e score on each item to yield a total score for the instrument. Scores can range from 16 to 112, with a higher score indicating a higher quality of life (Bur ckhardt & Anderson, 2003). Internal consistency and high test-retest reliability for the QOLS with general populations has been recorded in the first st udies using the scale as well as subsequent studies (Burckhardt, 1989). C onvergent and discriminant construct validity in chronic illness groups have been demonstrated us ing the Life Satisfaction Index-Z and the Arthritis Impact Measuremen t Scales, and Burckhardt and colleagues later offered evidence that the QOLS was valid in different populations, including healthy as well as chronically ill adults (Burc khardt et al 1989, Meenan et al, 1980). The QOLS has been used in studies of healthy adults and patie nts with rheumatic diseases, fibromyalgia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroin testinal disorders, ca rdiac disease, spinal cord injury, psoriasis, urinary stress incontinence, posttraumatic stress disorder, and diabetes (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).

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15 Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) The SWLS was administered to assess each participants overall judgment of their life in order to measure the concept of lif e satisfaction (Diene r et al., 1985, pp. 71-72). The SWLS is a 5-item, 7-point Likert scale ra nging from delighted to terrible(Diener et al, 1985). Responses range from strongl y disagree to strongly agree on a 7-point Likert scale. Scores are a dded, and the sum represents th e degree of life satisfaction (Table 3). After a factor analysis was completed, crit erion validity coefficients were obtained to determine a life satisfacti on rating. Diener et al. (1985) found that the item total correlations for the five SWLS items ( .81, .63, .61, .75, and .66) showed a good level of internal consistency for the scale (p. 74). Furthermore, the SWLS (Diener et al., 1985) shows discriminant validity from emoti onal well-being measures (Pavot & Diener, 1993, p. 164). Table 2: Quality of life categor ies in five domains (Flanagan 1978) Physical and material well-being Material well-being and financial security Health and personal safety Relations with other people Relations with spouse Having and raising children Relations with parents, siblings or other relatives Relations with friends Social, community and civic activities Activities related to helping or encouraging other people Activities relating to local and national governments Personal development and fulfillment Intellectual development Personal understanding and planning Occupational role Creativity and personal expression Recreation Socializing Passive and observational recreational activities Active and participatory recreational activities

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16 Table 3: SWLS score ranges (Diener et al., 1985) 31 Extremely Satisfied 26 Satisfied 21 Slightly Satisfied 20 Neutral 15 Slightly Dissatisfied 10 Dissatisfied 5 Extremely Dissatisfied Data Analysis When initially determining the distincti on between optimistic participants and pessimistic participants using their scores on the LOT, a quartile sp lit was performed to clearly delineate the separation in scores. Only the first (optimistic) and fourth (pessimistic) quartiles were used in order to include clearly identifiable optimists and pessimists, and therefore avoid confusion stemming from similar, more centralized scores. A multivariate analysis of variance (M ANOVA) was conducted using scores on the LOT as independent variables, and using th e QOL subscales as well as the SWLS as dependent variables. Simple effects tests wi th Bonferroni corrected alpha levels were used to evaluate significant interactions. Furthermore, since quality of life has been defined in previous research in terms of life satisfaction (Burc khardt, 1985, Ferrans & Powers 1985, Sexton & Munro 1988), the SWLS served as a convergence test for the QOLS. Pearson product-moment correlation coeffi cients were used to correlate between the SWLS with scores from the QOLS. Finally, internal consistency of the LOT, as well as individual group scores on the LOT and the SWLS, were estimated usi ng alpha reliability (Chronbach, 1951). All

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17 statistical analyses were run w ith the significance value set at p = .05. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences ( SPSS) was utilized for the anal yses of data in this study.

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RESULTS The scores from the QOL subscales (phys ical and material well-being, relations with other people, social, community and civic activities, pers onal development and fulfillment, and recreation) as well as SWLS scores were used as the dependent variables when comparing differences in the mean scor es for optimists and pessimists. According to the assumption of homogeneity of variance, the variances of th e dependent variables should not be significantly different across both levels of the independent variable (Grimm, 1993). No significant ( p > .05) difference was f ound in the variances for optimists or pessimists for any of the depende nt variables; therefore the assumption for homogeneity was met. Boxs M test was perfor med with results bei ng insignificant at the .01 level. There were no signifi cant gender differences [Wilks = .93, F (5, 185) = 2.79, p >.01]. After the quartile split, 97 optimists and 96 pessimists were discovered, with 69 being male and 124 being female (N = 193; Table 4). The results of between subject analyses revealed that optim ists scored higher on the QOLS subscale of personal development and fulfillment [ = .05, F (1, 192) = 10.03, p <.01] and on the SWLS [ = .09, F (1, 192) = 18.14, p < .01]. As for the MANOVA, there was a main effect for optimism [Wilks = .89, F (5, 185) = 4.71, p <.01]. The QOLS subscale of physica l and material well-being was dropped from the main analysis becaus e it had questionable reliability ( = .67). Participants classified as optimists scor ed higher for the QOLS subscale of personal 17

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19 development and fulfillment ( = .78), and recreation ( = .73), as well as for the SWLS ( = .89). The other subscales of the QOLS were not significant. A positive correlation was found between satisfa ction with life as measured by the SWLS and quality of life as assessed by the QOLS, which was significantly ( r = .551, r 2 = .304, p < .01) greater than zero (Table 5). Th e quality of life score from the QOLS explained 30% of the variab ility in the SWLS scores. The internal consistency reliability of both the LOT and the SWLS were examined using alpha reliability (Chronbach, 1951). The ove rall alpha reliability scores for the LOT and the SWLS were .842 and .902, respectively. Separate alpha reliability scores for optimists (n =97) and pessimists ( n=96), as well as individua l group optimism differences were also calculated. The al pha reliability scores were .820 (LOT-determined optimists) and .859 (LOT-determined pessimists). Table 4: Descriptive Statistics Gender Optimist or Pessimist Mean Standard Deviation N Male Optimist Pessimist Total 5.30 5.03 5.16 1.27 1.28 1.28 34 35 69 Female Optimist Pessimist Total 5.76 5.01 5.39 1.05 0.84 1.02 63 61 124 Personal Development and Fullfillment Total Optimist Pessimist Total 5.60 5.02 5.31 1.15 1.01 1.12 97 96 193 Male Optimist Pessimist Total 26.79 22.40 24.57 6.67 7.77 7.53 34 35 69 Female Optimist Pessimist Total 28.51 24.67 26.62 6.33 5.49 6.22 63 61 124 Satisfaction With Life Scale Total Optimist Pessimist Total 27.91 23.84 25.89 6.47 6.47 6.77 97 96 193

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20 Table 5: Pearson Product-Moment Correla tion Coefficients for the Relationship of QOLS and SWLS (N = 367) QOLS SWLS QOLS .551(p < .05)

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DISCUSSION This study was conducted to determine whethe r individuals classified as optimists would correspondingly self-report higher quality of life and life satisfaction scores than would pessimists. Optimism, or the inclin ation to expect favorable life outcomes (Marshall et al., 1992, p. 1067), was measured by the Life Orientation Test (LOT; Scheier & Carver, 1985). Quality of life, or an individuals judgment of whether his or her personal life aspirations and achieveme nts are being realized, was assessed using Flanagans Quality-of-life Scale (QOLS; 1978). Satisfaction with life, or a global assessment of a persons quality of life accord ing to his chosen criteria (Shin & Johnson, 1978, p. 478), was determined using the Satisfac tion With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985). It was hypothesized that participants who fell into the optimism category according to the LOT would exhibit a higher qu ality of life evidenced by higher scores on the QOLS, and that optimistic participants would also report a higher satisfaction with life through higher scores on the SWLS, than would participants who fell into the pessimism category. This hypothesis was suppo rted in the study, with optimists scoring significantly higher than pessimists on both the SWLS and the QOLS subscale of personal development and fulfillment. There were no significant differences in optimism scores related to the gender, weekly activity level, or age of part icipants. This finding corresponds with other studies concerning various measures of individuals content or 21

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21 happiness compared with optimism, in which optimism tends to correlate with better coping styles, as well as hi gher levels of overall psychol ogical and physical well-being (Myers & Steed, 1998), An interesting finding in the current study was the generally high level of optimism, life satisfaction, and quality of lif e in the sample, made up of undergraduate college students. This corresponds with a 1998 study by Bailey & Miller, where it was determined that the majority of college students in a sample of n = 243 were generally satisfied with their lives, and with Mollers 1996 study, in which twice as many students described themselves as satisfied rather th an dissatisfied with their lives (p. 21). However, the mean QOLS score for optimists, which was higher, was only 84.13, which is less than the normal healthy populations sc ore of 90, especially considering that many quality of life instruments tend to have ne gatively skewed means with most patients reporting some degree of satisfaction acro ss domains (Burckhard t & Anderson, 2003). Limitations. The current study did contain some limitations, one of which was the population that the sample was taken from. Participants consisted of undergraduate students at a large southeastern universit y. The findings from this study may not be generalizable to other popul ations and/or other geogra phical areas. There are also questions on the QOLS that may not pertai n to this population, such as questions concerning relationships with children and spouse. Another possible limitation concerns the use of the LOT to meas ure optimism. There have been criticisms of the LOT describing its effects to positive response bias (Scheier et al., 1994), and researchers have also found that the LOT may be confounded w ith neuroticism or negative affectivity (Terrill et al., 2002). It is possible that more research n eeds to be undertaken concerning

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23 the LOTs applicability and that it may need to be improved over time in order to quell the skepticism voiced by researchers. In addition, this study has a possible limitation stemming from the nature of the Likert scales used in the scales for the current study. The Likert scale for the LOT is labeled in the opposite direction (1-delighted; to 5-dissatisfied) compared to the SWLS (1-str ongly disagree; 7-strongly agree) and the QOLS (1-terrible; 7-delighted). There is a possi bility that this could cause confusion for participants completing this particular combin ation of measures as a result of the varying directions. It seems fitting that having a more joyful outlook on the world would serve to improve the quality of life and satisfaction with life. Because quality of life seems to be a concept that overlaps from the psychologica l arena into the more medical one, it is interesting to note that the results provided in this study may be worth studying from a more medical and purely physical standpoint. The possible implications of this study could be expanded upon to quite a large degree. It seems that in recen t years, a more holistic view of mental as well as physical health has begun to come into the limelight of modern living. If it could be clearly determined that having a more subjectively positive or optimistic outlook on ones life could unwaveringly improve an individuals over all health and wellness, the next logical step seems to be discovering whether it is po ssible to alter an i ndividuals outlook to become more positive, and if so, how that is to be effectively unde rtaken, in order to improve the human experience. Summary This study hypothesized that optimists w ould report a better quality of life and satisfaction with life than pessimists would report. The population consisted of

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24 undergraduate students at a large southeaste rn university, compri sed of 135 males and 231 females. The Life Orientation Test (L OT; Scheier & Carver, 1985) was used to determine optimists and pessimists, quality of life was measured by the Quality-of-life Scale (QOLS; Flanagan, 1978), and life satisfaction was measured using the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985). The LOT, QOLS, and SWLS were combined into a paper-and pencil survey and administered to 367 students. After entering LOT scores, a quartile split was performed, with the outer quartiles representing optim ism and pessimism so to avoid ambiguous separations between the two groups, that coul d potentially have arisen considering the original scales cutoff of one point between the two groups. The results of this study supported the hypothesis by indica ting that individuals who we re identified as optimists did have higher self-reported qua lity of life scores as well as life satisfaction scores than did individuals identified as pessimists. Conclusion The results of the current study supported th e notion that optimists enjoy their lives more that pessimists do. Optimists scored higher on measures of life satisfaction and quality of life. These findings help to further expand the views of psychological constructs such as optimism and pessimism into more applicable ideals. This study clearly demonstrates that ther e is a correlation between percep tions and quality of life, as well as life satisfaction. Implications for Future Research. Future research should be undertaken in order to expand the general knowledge on how outl ook affects the human experience. The LOT has received criticisms concer ning its susceptibility to posit ive response bias (Scheier et al., 1994), so more research should be amassed to confirm its reliability as well as

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25 validity. In addition, similar research shoul d be undertaken for other populations, so findings can become more generalizable.

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APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT Please Read This Entire Document Carefu lly Before Agreeing to Participate TO: All Research Participants FROM: Charis M. Brown RE: Informed Consent Study Title: Do Optimists Actually Have Better Lives? A Quasi-Experimental Optimism, Life Satisfaction, and Quality of Life Study Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study will be to expand the knowledge base concerning general mood, life satisfaction, and quality of life by comparing individuals optimism levels with self-reported life satisfaction and quality of life. What you will be asked to do: If you agree to participate in the study, you will be asked to participate in 3 surveys that will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Your answers on the survey will be kept completely confidential to the extent permitted by law. Time required: Approximately 10 minutes. Risks and Benefits: There are no risks expected from participati ng in this study. A benefit in the form of class extra credit may be awarded by your instructor/profe ssor if appropriate. If so, you will be informed by your instructor prior to participating in the study. Compensation: No compensation will be provided. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Your information will be assigned a code number, and individuals will not be identified by name but by the assigned code number. The list connecting your name to this number along with all data will be kept in a locked file in my faculty supervisors office. When the study is complete and the data have been analyzed, the list will be destroyed. Your name will not be used in any report, and the data analysis is anonymous. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw: You have the right to withdraw from this study at any time without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Charis M. Brown, B.S., Masters Student, Department of Health Education and Behavior, 110 Florida Gym, Box 118207, Gainesville, FL, 32611, 359-0580 x1374. Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250; ph 392-0433. Study Supervisor: Christine Boyd Stopka, Associate Professor, Department of Health Education and Behavior, 100 Florida Gym, Box 118210, Gainesville, FL, 32611-8210, phone-392-0583 x1259, cstopka@hhp.ufl.edu Agreement: 26

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27 I have read the procedure above. I voluntarily agr ee to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: ____________________________________________________ Date: _________________ Principal Investigator: ___________________________________________ Date: __________________

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APPENDIX B DEMOGRAPHICS QUESIONNAIRE 1. Please indicate your gender. Male Female 2. Please indicate the age range in which you fall. Under 21 21-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65 + 3. Please indicate approximately how often you engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Less than 1 1-3 4-6 7 + 4. Please indicate which college your major is currently a part of. Agricultural and Life Sciences Business Administration Design, Construction and Pl anning Dentistry Education Engineering Fine Arts Health and Human Performance Journalism and Communi cations Law Liberal Arts and Sciences Medicine Nursing Pharmacy Public Health and Health Prof essions Veterinary Medicine 28

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APPENDIX C LIFE ORIENTATION TEST Indicate the degree to which each of the item s represents your feelings according to the following code. 1 Delighted 2 Pleased 3 Mostly Satisfied 4 Mixed 5 Dissatisfied 1. I'm always optimistic about my future. In uncertain times, I us ually expect the best. 1 2 3 4 5 2. I always look on the bright side of things 1 2 3 4 5 3. If something can go wrong for me, it will. 1 2 3 4 5 4. It's easy for me to relax. 1 2 3 4 5 5. I hardly ever expect things to go my way. 1 2 3 4 5 6. I enjoy my friends a lot. 1 2 3 4 5 7. It's important for me to keep busy. 1 2 3 4 5 8. I rarely count on good things happening to me. 1 2 3 4 5 9. I'm a believer in the idea that "every cloud has a silver lining." 1 2 3 4 5 10. 1 2 3 4 5 11. I don't get upset too easily. Things never work out the way I want them to. 1 2 3 4 5 12. 1 2 3 4 5 29

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APPENDIX D QUALITY-OF-LIFE SCALE Please read each item and circle the number that best desc ribes how satisfied you are at this time. Please answer each item even if you do not currently participate in an activity or have a relationship. You can be satisfied or dissatisfied with not doing the activity or having the relationship. 7 Delighted 6 Pleased 5 Mostly Satisfied 4 Mixed 3 Dissatisfied 2 Unhappy 1 Terrible 1. Material comforts home, food, conveniences, financial security 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2. Health being physically fit and vigorous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3. Relationships with parents, siblings & other relativescommunicating, visiting, helping 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4. Having and rearing children 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5. Close relationships with spouse or significant other Close friends 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 7. Helping and encouraging others, volunteering, giving advice 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. Participating in organizations and public affairs 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9. Learningattending school, improving understanding, getting additional knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10. Understanding yourself knowing your assets and limitations knowing what life is about 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 11. Work job or in home 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 12. Expressing yourself creatively 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 13. Socializing meeting other people, doing things, parties, etc 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 14. Reading, listening to music, or observing entertainment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 15. Participating in active recreation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 30

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APPENDIX E SATISFACTION WITH LIFE SCALE Below are five statements that you may agr ee or disagree with. Using the 1 7 scale below indicate your agreement with each item by circling the appropriate number. Please be open and honest in your responding. 7 Strongly agree 6 Agree 5 Slightly agree 4 Neither agree nor disagree 3 Slightly disagree 2 Disagree 1 Strongly disagree 1. In most ways my life is close to my ideal. The conditions of my life are excellent. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2. I am satisfied with my life. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3. So far I have gotten the importa nt things I want in life. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 31

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33 Burckhardt, C., Archenholtz, B, & Bjelle A. (1992). Measuring quali ty of life of women with rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus: A Swedish version of the quality of life scale (QOLS). Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 21 190-195. Burckhardt, C., Clark, S., & Bennett, R. ( 1993). Fibromyalgia and quality of life: A comparative analysis. Journal of Rheumatology, 20 475-479. Burckhardt, C., Woods, S., Schultz A., & Zieb arth, D. (1989). Quality of life of adults with chronic illness: A psychometric study. Research in Nursing and Health, 12 347-354. Cantril H. (1965). The Pattern of Human Concerns. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Carifio, J., & Rhodes, L. (2002). Construct validities and the empirical relationships between optimism, hope, self-effi cacy, and locus of control. Work: Journal of Prevention, Assessment, & Rehabilitation, 19 (2), 125-136. Carver, C., & Gaines, J. (1987). Optimism, pessimism and postpartum depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 11 449-462. Chang, E. (1998a). Does dispositional optimis m moderate the relation between perceived stress and psychological well-bein g?: a preliminary investigation. Personality and Individual Differences, 25 233-240. Chang, E. (1998b). Dispositional optimism and primary and secondary appraisal of a stressor: controlling for confounding influences and relations to c oping and psychological and physical adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 (4), 11091120. Cheng, H., & Furnham, A. (2003). Attributiona l style and self-esteem as predictors of psychological well being. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 16 (2), 121-130. Chronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal st ructure of tests. Psychometrika, 16 297-334. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2 nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Dalkey, N. C., Rourke D. L., Lewis. R., & Snyder D. (1972). Studies in the Quality of Life. Lexington: Lexington Books. DeLongis, A., Folkman, S. (1988). The imp act of daily stress on health and mood: Psychological and social resources as mediators. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(3), 486-495.

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34 Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95 542-575. Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larse n, R., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49 (1), 71-75. Diener, E., & Larsen, R. J. (1993). The subjecti ve experience of emotional well-being. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland (Eds), Handbook of emotions. (pp. 405-415) New York: Guilford Press. Drummond, N. (1995). The quality of life fo r asthma patients: a qualitative study. The Western Journal of Medicine, 125, 1-2. Fayers, P. M., Hand, D. J. (1997). Factor anal ysis, causal indicators and quality of life. Quality of Life Research, 6 139-150. Fayers, P. M., Hand, D. J., Bjordal, K., & Groenvold, M. (1997). Causal indicators in quality of life research. Quality of Life Research, 6 139-150. Ferrans, C.E. (1990). Quality of life: conceptual issues. Seminars in Oncology Nursing 6 248-254. Ferrans, C. E., & Powers, M. J. (1985). Quality of life index: development and psychometric properties. Advances in Nursing Science, 8 15-24. Ferrell, B., Grant, M., Schmidt, G.M., et al (1992). The meaning of quality of life for bone marrow transplant survivors. Part 1. The impact of bone marrow transplant on quality of life. Cancer Nursing, 15, 153-160. Flanagan, J. C. (1978). A research appr oach to improving our quality of life. American Psychologist, 33 138-147. Flanagan, J. C. (1982). Measurement of the quality of life: Current state of the art. Archives of Physical and Medical Rehabilitation, 33 56-59. Geers, A., Helfer, S, Kosbab, K., Weiland, P., & Landry, S. (2005). Reconsidering the role of personality in placebo effects: dis positional optimism, situational expectations, and the placebo response. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 58 121-127. Gill, T., Feinstein, A. (1994). A critical appraisal of the quality of the Quality-of-life measurements. Journal of the American Medical Association, 8 619-626. Grimm, L. G. (1993). Statistical applications for the behavioral sciences. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

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35 Hagg, O., Burckhardt, C., Fritzell, P., & Nordwall, A. (2003). Quality of ife in chronic low back pain: A comparison with fibromyalgia and the general population. Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, 11 31-38. Harrington, R., & Loffredo, D. (2001). The rela tionship between life satisfaction, selfconsciousness, and the myers-brig gs type inventory dimensions. The Journal of Psychology, 135 (4), 439-450. Huprich, S., & Frisch, M. (2004). The depressi ve personality disorder inventory and its relationship to quality of lif e, hopefulness, and optimism. Journal of Personality Assessment, 83(1), 22-28. Isaacowitz, D. (2005). The gaze of the optimist. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31 (3), 407-415. Johnson, J.R., & Temple, R. (1985). Food and Drug Administration requirements for approval of new anticancer drugs. Cancer Treatment Reports 69 1155-1157. Laborde, J.M., & Powers, M.J. (1980) Satisfaction with life for patients undergoing hemodialysis and patients suffering from osteoarthritis Research in Nursing and Healt, 3, 19-24. Lazarus, R. (2000). Toward better research on stress and coping. American Psychologist, 55(6), 665-673.Leplege, A., & Hunt, S. ( 1997). The problem of quality of life in medicine. JAMA, 278 47-50. Liedberg, G., Burckhardt, C., & Henriksson, C. (2005). Validity and reliability testing of the Quality of Life Scale, Swedish version in women with fibromyalgia statistical analyses. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 19, 64-70. Litt, M. D., Tennen, H., Affleck, G., & Kloc k, S. (1992). Coping and cognitive-factors in adaptation to in vitro fertilization failure. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15 171-187. Marshall, G., Wortman, C., Kusulas, J., Herv ig, L., & Vickers, R. (1992). Distinguishing optimism from pessimism: Relations to fundamental dimensions of mood and personality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62 (6), 1067-1074. Meenan, R., Gertman P., & Mason, J. (1980). Me asuring health status in arthritis: The arthritis impact measurement scales. Arthritis Rheumatology, 23 146-152. Michalos, A. C. (1986). An application of multiple discrepancies theory to seniors. Social Indicators Research, 18, 349-373. Moller, V. (1996). Life satisfaction and exp ectations for the future in a sample of university students: a research note. South African Journal of Sociology, 27 (1), 16-26.

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36 Morgan, M.L. (1992). Classics of Moral and Political Theory. Indianapolis: Hackett Motzer, S., & Stewart, B. (1996). Sense of cohe rence as a predictor of quality of life in persons with coronary heart di sease surviving cardiac arrest. Research in Nursing and Health, 19, 287-298. Myers, L., & Steed, L. (1999). The rela tionship between dispositional optimism, dispositional pessimism, repres sive coping and train anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences 27 1261-1272. Neumann, L., & Buskila, D. (1997). Measuri ng the quality of life of women with fibromyalgia: a Hebrew version of the quality of life scale (QOLS). Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, 5 5-17. Oleson, M. (1990). Subjectively perceived quality of life. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 22 187-190. Padilla, G. V., Ferrell, B., Grant, M. M ., & Rhiner, M. (1990). Defining the content domain of quality of life fo r cancer patients with pain. Cancer Nursing, 13 108-115. Parkerson, G., Gehbach, S., Wagner, E., James, S., Clapp, N., & Muhlbaier, L. (1981). The Duke-UNC health profile: An adult hea lth status instrument for primary care. Medical Care, 19 806-828. Pavot, W., Diener, E. (1993). Review of the satisfaction with life scale. Psychological Assessment, 5(2), 164-172. Perry, M. (2002). Examining the relationship betw een dispositional and specific expectation optimism/pessi mism and their effects on task performance Manchester, Saint Anselm College. (M. A. in Psychology) Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, E. ( 2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: the full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, 25-41. Raikkonen, K., Matthews, K. A., Flory, J. D., Owens, J. F., & Gump, B. B. (1999). Effects of optimism, pessimism, and trai n anxiety on ambulatory blood pressure and mood during everyday life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 104-113. Revicki, D., Osoba, D., Fairclough, D., Baro fsky, I., Berzon, R., Leidy N., & Rothman M. (2000). Recommendations on health-related quality of life research to support labeling and promotional claims in the United States. Quality of Life Research, 9 887900. Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1985). Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generali zed outcome expectancies. Health Psychology, 4 219-247.

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37 Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1993). On the power of positive thin king: the benefits of being optimistic. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2 (1), 26-30. Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S, & Bridges, M. (1994). Distinguishing neuroticism (and train anxiety, self-mastery, and se lf-esteem): A reevaluation of the life orientation test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67 1063-1078. Scheier, M. F., Matthews, K. A., Owens, J. F., Macgovern, G. J., Sr., Lefebvre, R. C., Abbott, R. A. (1989). Dispositional optimism and recovery from coronary artery bypass surgery : The beneficial effects on physical and psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57 1024-1040. Segerstrom, S. C., Taylor, S. E., Kemeny, M. E., & Fahey, J. L. (1998). Optimism is associated with mood, coping, and immune changes in response to stress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 1646-1655. Sexton, D. L., & Munro, B. H. (1988). Living wi th a chronic illness: the experience of women with chronic obstruc tive pulmonary disease. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 10 26-44. Shin, D. C., & Johnson, D. M. (1978). Avowed happiness as an overall assessment of the quality of life. Social Indicators Researrch, 5 475-492. Smith, T., Pope, M. K., & Rhodewalt, F. (1989). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(4), 640-648. Tennen, H., & Affleck, G. (1987). The costs an d benefits of optimistic experiences and dispositional optimism. Journal of Personality, 55 (2), 377-393. Terrill, D. R., Friedman, D. G., Gottschalk, L. A., & Haaga, D. A. (2002). Construct validity of the life orientation test. Journal of Personality Assessment, 79 (3), 550-563. Turkum, A. S. (2005). Do optimism, social network richness, and submissive behaviors predict well being? Study with a Turkish sample. Social Behavior and Personality, 33 (6), 619-628. Wahl, A., Burckhardt, C., Wiklund, I., & Hane stad, B. (1997). The Norwegian version of the quality of life scale (QOLS-N). A validity and reliability study in patients suffering from psoriasis. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 12 215-222. Wood, V., Wylie, M., & Sheafor, B. (1969). An an alysis of a short self-report measure of life satisfaction: Correlati on with rater judgements. Journal of Gerontology, 24 465-469. Zullig, K. (2005). Using CDCs health-related quality of life scale on a college campus. American Journal of Health Behavior, 29 (6), 569-569.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Growing up in a small town in Virginia, I seemed to be the resident go-to person for everyones problems, hard times, and a dvice. My interest in the way the mind and emotions worked followed me up through grade school, along with my passion for volunteer work and community service. My interest in individuals perceptions and subjective experienced led me to pursue a bachelors degree in psychol ogy at the University of Cent ral Florida. During my years at UCF, I was a research assistant under a swimming teacher, who taught aquatic survival skills to small children with a wi de range of disabilities. I fe ll in love with that area of work, and decided to pursue a Masters degr ee at the University of Florida, with a specialization in Adapted Physical Activit y. Once at the university, my interests broadened to a more holistic type of psychol ogical and physical hea lth, which has led me to have the desire to acqui re knowledge on the effects th at mental states have on previously-thought unrelated vi ews of human experience. I believe that western culture on the bri nk of a new paradigm concerning the more internal world as just as important as the external world. My expe riences and training at the University of Florida have been invaluable and I feel incredibly fortunate to have amassed the opportunities and education that I have received from this program. I look forward to being able to say that I am a pr oud alumna of UF, and to carry that with me into my future, where I hope to be able to give back what has been so graciously awarded to me by my experiences. 38


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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0014372/00001

Material Information

Title: Do Optimists Have Better Lives? A Quasi-Experimental Optimism, Life Satisfaction, and Quality of Life Study
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0014372:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0014372/00001

Material Information

Title: Do Optimists Have Better Lives? A Quasi-Experimental Optimism, Life Satisfaction, and Quality of Life Study
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0014372:00001


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Full Text











DO OPTIMISTS HAVE BETTER LIVES?
A QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL OPTIMISM, LIFE SATISFACTION,
AND QUALITY-OF-LIFE STUDY














By

CHARIS BROWN


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Charis Brown


































To Dr. Christine Stopka.
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

There are many people I would like to thank for their assistance in completing my

master' s thesis. I would like to begin with my chair, Dr. Christine Stopka. Without her

unwavering support and enthusiasm I may have never had the confidence and motivation

to finish my thesis. I also thank her for believing in me, even when my ambitious

timetable was unorthodox and daunting. She always took the time to offer the advice,

materials, and encouragement I needed, despite her own hectic schedule. Dr. Stopka was

my rock during my years at the University of Florida as a graduate student, and she has

touched my life in many ways.

I would also like to thank Dr. Pete Giacobbi for all of his help with statistical

analyses and research questions. I would like to thank the other member of my thesis

committee, Dr. Fagerberg, as well as Dr. Fleming for taking time and serving on my

committee at the last minute, when scheduling got difficult.

In addition, I would like to mention the credit deserved by my family and friends.

They offered support to me just when I needed it, and their knowledge and assistance has

been invaluable. I deeply thank everyone who gave me help and support.





















TABLE OF CONTENTS


Page

ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .........__... ......._. .............._ iv...


LIST OF TABLES ........._.__........_. ..............vii....


AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ..........._..._ viii..


INTRODUCTION .............. ...............1.....


Related Research and Theory ................. ...............2.......... .....
Purpose .............. ...............9.....
Hypothesis ................. ...............10.......... .....


M ETHOD S ................. ...............11.......... .....


Research Design ................. ...............11.......... .....
Participants and Setting ................. ...............11................
Procedures .............. ...............12....
M measures ................. ...............12.................

Data Analy sis............... ...............16


RE SULT S .............. ...............18....


DI SCUS SSION ................. ...............2.. 1..............


Summary ................. ...............23.................
Conclusion ................. ...............24.................


APPENDIX


INFORMED CON SENT .............. ...............26....


DEMOGRAPHICS QUESIONNAIRE .............. ...............28....


LIFE ORIENTATION TEST .............. ...............29....


QUALITY-OF-LIFE SCALE ............. ...... .__ ...............30...


SATISFACTION WITH LIFE SCALE .....__.....___ ..........._ ............













LIST OF REFERENCES ................. ...............32................


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............. ...............38....

















LIST OF TABLES

Table pg

1 Life Orientation Test categories ................. ...............13........... ...

2 Quality-of-life categories in five domains .............. ...............15....

3 Satisfaction With Life Scale score ranges............... ...............16.

4 Descriptive statistics............... ...............1

5 Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients for the relationship of Quality-
of-life Scale and Satisfaction With Life Scale (N = 367) .............. ...................20
















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

DO OPTIMISTS HAVE BETTER LIVES?
A QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL OPTIMISM, LIFE SATISFACTION,
AND QUALITY-OF-LIFE STUDY

By

Charis Brown

May 2006

Chair: Christine Stopka
Maj or Department: Health Education and Behavior

Defieits exist in the research base that links optimism with life satisfaction and

quality of life. Although all three of the above constructs are widely studied in their

respective Hields, optimism and life satisfaction seem to be used more diversely than

quality of life. Using the general population' s quality of life in research has been severely

neglected in favor of populations with chronic illnesses. In addition, optimism, while a

respected and widely used construct, is seldom used to assess individuals' more global

perceptions of life. It is mostly used in describing specific situations and perceptions. For

these reasons, our purpose was to discern whether a causal link exists between optimism

and life satisfaction and quality of life scores in a large university setting. Participants

were undergraduate students at a large southeastern university. Optimism (the

independent variable) was assessed using Scheier and Carver' s Life Orientation Test

(LOT). The dependent variables (quality of life and life satisfaction) were measured










using Flanagan's Quality-of-life Scale and Diener and colleagues' Satisfaction With Life

Scale. The scales were administered in the form of a pencil-and-paper survey to 367

students. Two separate one-way independent groups analyses of variance (ANOVAs)

were conducted to determine whether optimists and pessimists differed across scores on

the Quality of Life Scale, and to examine whether optimists and pessimists differed

across scores on the Satisfaction With Life Scale. Students identified as optimists scored

significantly higher on quality of life and life satisfaction scales than did students

identified as pessimists.















INTRODUCTION

A general consensus is that optimists look at specific situations more positively

than pessimists do. Does this situation-specific outlook generalize to people's overall life

satisfaction and quality of life? Are optimists actually more likely than pessimists to see

their entire lives as being satisfying and having better quality?

Optimism is defined as "the inclination to expect favorable life outcomes"

(Marshall et al., 1992, p. 1067). This definition implies that optimism is a way of seeing

future events (and perhaps present situations) in a certain positive light. Whether

optimism is situation-specific or generalizes to larger states of being is unclear. Thus,

research is needed to discern whether optimism influences a more-complete view of an

individual's entire life, not just a specific moment or situation.

According to Lazarus (2002, p. 667), "The prime obj ective of basic research is to

understand life and the world in which it exists." Although optimism, quality of life, and

life satisfaction are well known and widely studied constructs, there is a deficit in

research concerning linking the three. Quality of life studies tend to focus on people with

chronic illnesses and life satisfaction has broader applications, yet neither quality of life

nor life satisfaction has been widely studied with regard to physically and mentally

healthy persons. Optimism and pessimism are thought of as relevant dimensions of

personality and are often studied in relation to stress and coping but research linking

optimism and pessimism to a more general outlook is lacking. Optimism, quality of life,

and life satisfaction have never been combined to find common ground. It is worth









investigating whether optimists only perceive circumstances with more positive

conceptual wording than pessimists. If optimists and pessimists have feel the same about

their lives and merely use different words for the same feelings, there should be no

difference in their self-reported quality of life or life satisfaction scores. If pessimists

merely use more-negative words to describe the same baseline emotional level, then their

lives are not actually less satisfying or of a lower quality than optimists' lives.

Related Research and Theory

Optimists are aware that the cherries of life have pits, but
they are prepared to remove them. Their minds do not dwell on the
pits, but on the sweetness of the cherries. --Anonymous

Optimism. A broad research base exists concerning optimism and pessimism,

especially regarding its influence on other aspects of life. Dispositional optimism affects

physical and psychological well-being (Scheier et al., 1994), and accounts for individual

differences in psychological well-being (Turkum, 2005). The more optimistic the

individual, the lower the individual's perceived stress (Segerstrom et al., 1998). People

with higher levels of optimism show lower levels of perceived stress (Turkum, 2005).

Optimism has been negatively correlated with depression in pregnant women (Carver &

Gaines, 1987). Optimistic women respond better to unsuccessful in vitro fertilization

(Litt et al., 1992). Optimists are also less likely to suffer from postpartum depression

(Carver & Gaines, 1987). Optimistic students adjust more easily and with less distress to

the first semester of college (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992). Students who are under stress

cope better and are more successful later, in their careers, if they are optimists rather than

pessimists (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992). The belief is becoming more widespread that

stress is a major causal factor in illness (DeLongis et al., 1988). Optimists show lower

average ambulatory blood pressure (Raikkonen et al., 1999), and recover more quickly









from coronary artery bypass surgery (Scheier et al., 1989). A variety of studies show that

optimism can influence the effectiveness of treatments for AIDS and recovery rates from

heart attacks (Cariflo & Rhodes, 2002). A commonly used and accepted measurement

tool for measuring optimism is the Life Orientation Test (LOT; Scheier & Carver, 1985),

which is a "measure of the extent to which individuals possess favorable expectations

regarding life outcomes" (Marshall et al., 1992, p. 1068).

Quality of life. Quality of life (QOL) has generated great interest from researchers

and theorists alike in many diverse fields (Zullig, 2005).The earliest commonly reported

quality of life conceptualization was by Aristotle, who considered the "good life," or

happiness, a result of a life of virtue (Morgan, 1992). More recently, psychologists and

sociologists have described quality of life in terms of an individual's expectations and

goals in life, and whether these aspirations are realized (Anderson & Burckhardt, 1999).

As time has passed, definitions of quality of life have taken several different routes.

The concept of QOL has been identified as very complex, and to further complicate the

matter, many studies do not operationally define their conceptualization of quality of life,

as in a literature review of 75 articles, only 15, or 1 1% of reviewed articles with the term

"quality of life" in the title conceptually defined QOL (Gill & Feinstein, 1994). One of

the reasons, among others, for the overall confusion with defining quality of life stems

from different authors approaching the complicated term from a range of varied

perspectives (Leplege & Hunt, 1997). Philosophers examine the nature of human

existence, economists focus on the allocation of resources to achieve alternative goals,

nurses, while taking a broad view of quality of life as is dictated by their discipline's









holism, are waylaid by disease-specific issues, and physicians focus solely on physical

health and illness-related variables (Anderson & Burckhardt, 1999).

The seemingly most common definition of quality of life is an individual's

experienced personal satisfaction with areas of life that are considered important to the

individual (Bowling, 1997). In 1990, Oleson defined quality of life as the subjective

perception of happiness or satisfaction with life in domains of importance to the

individual. Anderson and Burckhardt (1999) defined quality of life using a similar idea;

"individuals' perceptions of satisfaction with life in various domains" (p. 304).

Anderson and Burckhardt (1999) argued that quality of life is often confused with

concepts such as symptoms, mood, functional status and general health status. Although

there are similarities between quality of life and the above concepts, it remains unique

and distinct from other health-related concepts.

Although it has previously been within the realm of mental and psychological

health and wellness, modern health care has evidenced an increased interest in evaluating

quality of life as a treatment outcome (Archenholtz & Burckhardt, 1999). The World

Health Organization defines health as not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but

as a concept that incorporates notions of well-being or wellness in all areas of life:

physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social, and therefore transforms health from a

more narrowed physical view to a broad concept that encompasses the entire spectrum of

wellness and disease (Anderson & Burckhardt, 1999).

Cantril (1965) created a scale based on subj ective, individual standards that

participants in his study created about the self and the environment, therefore guiding

behavior and defining satisfaction. He viewed his central problem as learning "what these









standards are in a person's own terms and not by our own standards." To remedy this,

Cantril allowed respondents to define his/her own assumptions, perceptions, goals, and

values. As a result, he found that Americans' maj or concerns (expressed in over 10% of

responses) consisted of maintenance of the status quo, old age, leisure time, personal and

family health, children, a decent standard of living, and housing. Other documented

concerns included worries about war, continued employment, working conditions,

resolution of religious problems, attaining emotional maturity, being accepted, and

having modern conveniences. These findings help illustrate that Americans experienced a

wide variation in individualized concerns, covering all facets of life.

Later, Dalkey et al (1972) concluded that a similarly broad spectrum of situations

determine the quality of people' s lives. Dalkey et al hypothesized that, since they

believed that the basic components of QOL are shared by all people, the emphasis placed

on these components varied among individuals because of value judgments concerning

the amount of each component they were currently receiving. Through their Delphi

studies, the researchers identified thirteen characteristics rated by respondents: love and

affection; self-respect and self-satisfaction; peace of mind; sexual satisfaction; challenge

and stimulation; social acceptance; achievement and job satisfaction; individuality;

involvement and participation; comfort, economic well-being and good health; novelty

and change; dominance, superiority, and independence; and privacy.

Within the same decades as the two previously mentioned studies, other

investigations were also examining the quality of life concept (Andrews & Withey, 1976,

Shin & Johnson, 1978, Michalos, 1986). These studies encompassed slightly different

ideals describing the definition and domains of quality of life, however, they did develop









similar definitions concerning the subj activity to the person' s perspective who is

describing their quality of life, the numerous domains or dimensions of life that influence

the global perception of quality of life, and contentment with one' s life being determined

by whether one's perceived expectations, needs, and/or aspirations are actually being

achieved.

Revicki et al. (2000, p. 888) defined QOL as "a broad range of human experiences

related to one' s overall well-being. It implies value based on subj ective functioning in

comparison with personal expectations and is defined by subj ective experiences, states

and perceptions. QOL, by its very nature, is idiosyncratic to the individual, but intuitively

meaningful and understandable to most people." Although it has been considered of

particular interest for the health sciences for years, as a United States federal mandate

concerning cancer treatment over two decades ago encouraged the exploration of similar

outcome measures for health care (Johnson & Temple, 1985), QOL continues to be

somewhat controversial, as whether it is an appropriate outcome variable for the health

care disciplines is still being explored in recent research (Anderson & Burckhardt, 1999).

In the mid-1970's, development of the Quality-of-life Scale (QOLS; Flanagan,

1978) was undertaken by an American psychologist named John Flanagan.

Approximately 3,000 Americans from varying backgrounds, ethnic groups, and ages

were asked to contribute experiences that were important or satisfying to them. Flanagan

purposefully included ethnic minorities, senior citizens, low socioeconomic groups, and

rural inhabitants, because, as Flanagan (1978, p. 138) stated, "the purpose of using the

regional samples and diverse groups was not to obtain accurate estimates of frequencies

but rather to insure that differeing points of view and types of experience were









represented." A scale of 15 items was developed representing five domains Flanagan's

team derived from over 6,000 critical incidents (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).

After developing the 15-item scale, Flanagan surveyed 3,000 people across the

nation aged 30, 50, and 70, using 5-point scales of "needs met" and "importance." The

results revealed that the maj ority of participants felt that the items were important to

them, as well as confirming that the maj ority was satisfied that their needs were being

met in all areas (Flanagan, 1982).

Although the original QOLS used two five-point scales of"importance" and "needs

met" to determine content validity in the initial study (Burckhardt et al, 1989), reliability

of this scaling had not been reported at the time. A seven-point scale with responses of

"delighted" (7), "pleased" (6), "mostly satisfied" (5), "mixed" (4), "mostly dissatisfied"

(3), "unhappy" (2), and "terrible" (1) was adopted, as Andrews and Crandall (1976) had

suggested that the seven-point scale was more sensitive and less negatively skewed than a

5-point satisfaction scale for a quality-of-life assessment, probably because it allowed for

a wider variation of affective responses to QOL items (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).

In 1981 Flanagan gave permission to adapt the scale for patients with chronic

illnesses, as he believed that adaptations may be needed for that population, and that

different scales may produce divergent results (Flanagan, 1982). A subsequent study by

Burckhardt et al (1989) verified the domain structure identified by Flanagan's 1978 study

with an addition of "a concern with maintaining independence" (Anderson & Burckhardt,

1999). A similar item was subsequently added to the scale for the adaptation for

individuals with chronic illnesses independence, or the "ability to do for oneself"

(Burckhardt et al., 2003). Since the adaptation, the QOLS has all but exclusively been









utilized to gather information about people with chronic or incurable illnesses. Utilization

of the adapted QOLS for research has become more common than research concerning

the original scale, and illnesses studied include diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis

(Burckhardt et al., 1989), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; Burckhardt et

al., 1993), fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS; Anderson, 1995; Neumann & Buskila, 1997),

heart disease (Motzer & Stewart, 1996), and spinal cord injury (Hans, 1995), among

many others.

In the past 2 decades, additional QOL scales have been developed. However,

nearly all of these instruments actually measure what Fayers and colleagues (1997a,

1997b) have named causal indicators of quality of life rather than quality of life itself

(Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).

Some researchers have partially based their central conceptualization and

measurement of life quality on symptoms of specific diseases (Laborde & Powers, 1980,

Ferrans, 1990, Ferrell et al 1992). Albeit the fact that when several researchers have

asked participants with various physical ailments about the meaning of quality of life, the

same types of responses are elicited as those obtained from more general populations

(Padilla et al., 1990, Ferrell et al., 1992, Drummond, 1995), the disproportionately large

amount of QOL research concerning people with illnesses far outweighs the amount of

current research on the QOL of people without chronic illnesses. Many theorists have

recently argued that the QOLS should be expanded to include the absence of physical or

mental illnesses (Zullig, 2005), which indicates the possibility that the adapted QOLS has

become so popular that some are unaware that the initial scale, before the adaptation, was










designed to examine populations devoid of illness. It seems apparent that more QOL

research is needed centering on more general populations.

Life satisfaction. According to Pavot and Diener (1993), "life satisfaction is a

conscious cognitive judgment of one' s life in which the criteria for judgment are up to the

person" (p. 164). Shin and Johnson (1978) defined life satisfaction as "a global

assessment of a person's quality of life according to his chosen criteria" (p. 478).

Increasingly during the past few decades, research has explored subj ective well-being

(SWB; Diener, 1984; Diener & Larsen, 1992), of which life satisfaction is the cognitive

component (Andrews & Withey, 1976). Life Satisfaction was assessed using the

Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985), and this is a currently accepted

assessment tool. The limitation of many other scales used to define constructs such as life

satisfaction is that the authors of the scales weight different aspects of life such as wealth

or recreation. According to Diener (1985), "the judgment of how satisfied people are with

their present state of affairs is based on a comparison with a standard which each

individual sets for him or herself; it is not externally imposed" (p. 71). The SWLS is

superior to other measures in that it allows respondents, instead of researchers, to weight

aspects of their own lives and in terms of their own values to achieve a global view of

their individual life satisfaction.

Purpose

The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to expand the knowledge base

concerning general mood, life satisfaction, and quality of life by comparing individuals'

optimism levels with self-reported life satisfaction and quality of life, using a sample

population of undergraduate students at a large southeastern university. The independent









variable was individuals' optimism and pessimism scores using the LOT, and the

dependent variables were scores on the SWLS and the QOLS.

Hypothesis

It was hypothesized by the researcher that participants who fall into the "optimism"

category according to the LOT would score higher on the QOLS, therefore exhibiting a

higher QOL. Optimists were also hypothesized to score higher on the SWLS, exhibiting

a more subj ectively satisfying life, than would participants falling into the "pessimism"

category.















METHOD S

Research Design

The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin,

1985), the Life Orientation Test (LOT; Scheier & Carver, 1985), and the Quality-of-life

Scale (QOLS; Flanagan, 1978) was administered to undergraduate students at a large

southeastern university to measure optimism, life satisfaction, and quality of life. A

quasi-experimental design was used to estimate the relationship of the scores from the

LOT as the independent variable with scores from the SWLS and the QOLS as dependent

variables.

Participants and Setting

Undergraduate students at a large southeastern university were recruited

subsequent to requests made by the researcher. The study obtained 367 participants total.

One hundred thirty-seven males and 231 females participated in the study. A small

percentage of extra credit for classes was awarded to undergraduate students who

participated in the study, as a part of optional extra credit points allotted by the instructor

for participation in various types of community service and/or research. Cohen's

statistical power analysis was calculated and revealed an adequate sample size (Cohen,

1977).

The measures were given in classrooms and offices within the university.

Surveys were completed individually. Both male and female participants were included

in the study, and the ages of participants ranged from 18 to 60 years.









Procedures

Upon receiving approval from the University's Institutional Review Board,

participants were contacted by the researcher and invited to participate in the study. Prior

to receiving the scales, each participant was given an informed consent for and asked to

carefully read and sign.

The LOT, SWLS, and QOLS were combined into a paper-and-pencil survey that

was photocopied and distributed by the researcher to subj ects, with the order of the scales

being randomized. Briefing instructions for the participants regarding the completion of

the scales was written on the cover page of each copy as well as presented verbally prior

to beginning the survey. In addition, a short demographic questionnaire was included to

gather information pertaining to age, education level, gender, and occupation. The survey

took between 10 minutes and 20 minutes to complete. Upon completion of the survey,

participants were debriefed by the researcher in the form of a written letter.

Measures

Dispositional optimism and pessimism was measured using the Life Orientation

Test (LOT; Scheier & Carver, 1985). Satisfaction with the participant's life as a whole

was measured using the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985). The

participants' self-reported quality of life was measured using the Quality-of-life Scale

(QOLS; Flanagan, 1978).

Life Orientation Test (LOT)

The LOT was administered to measure each participant' s dispositional optimism as

well as pessimism by assessing generalized positive outcome expectancies (Scheier &

Carver, 1985). There are 12 total items, with four counting towards optimism, four

counting towards pessimism, and four filler items (Table 1). Responses range from "I










agree a lot" to "I disagree a lot" on a 5-point Likert scale. Items scoring pessimism are

scored in the same direction as optimism items, therefore when scoring high pessimism

scores will indicate low actual pessimism. Using the LOT, optimism and pessimism are

considered two separate constructs, so an individual will have an optimism score and a

pessimism score, with predetermined scores delineated by the author of the scale

discerning whether an individual is considered an "optimist" or a "pessimist" (Scheier &

Carver, 1985). LOT has been found to show predictive validity and to be a "viable

instrument for assessing people' s generalized sense of optimism" (Scheier et al., 1994, p.

1071).

Table 1: Life Orientation Test categories (Scheier & Carver, 1985)
Optinsisn;
"I'm always optimistic about my future."
"In uncertain times, I usually expect the best."
"I always look on the bright side of things."
"I'm a believer in the idea that 'every cloud has a silver lining.'"
Pessinsisn; (reverse- scored)
"If something can go wrong for me, it will."
"I hardly every expect things to go my way."
"I rarely count on good things happening to me."
"Things never work out the way I want them to."
Filler Itents
"It' s easy for me to relax."
"I enj oy my friends a lot."
"It' s important for me to keep busy."
"I don't get upset too easily."


Terrill et al (2002) found the LOT to provide "a viable measure of optimism" (p.

560). Internal consistency, temporal stability, and convergent and discriminant validity

have been supported by internal validation studies (Scheier & Carver, 1985), as the LOT

related, though did not appear to be redundant, with self-report measures of social









anxiety, alienation, perceived stress, depression, hopelessness, self-esteem, and

internality (Terrill et al., 2002).

Quality-Of-Life Scale (QOLS)

The QOLS was administered to measure each participant' s self-perceived quality of

life, by measuring fiye conceptual domains of quality of life; material and physical well-

being, relationships with other people, social, community, and civic activities, personal

development and fulfillment, and recreation (Table 2). There are 15 items in the QOLS,

and responses are reported by a seven-point Likert scale, ranging from "delighted" to

"terrible." The QOLS is scored by adding up the score on each item to yield a total score

for the instrument. Scores can range from 16 to 112, with a higher score indicating a

higher quality of life (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).

Internal consistency and high test-retest reliability for the QOLS with general

populations has been recorded in the first studies using the scale as well as subsequent

studies (Burckhardt, 1989). Convergent and discriminant construct validity in chronic

illness groups have been demonstrated using the Life Satisfaction Index-Z and the

Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales, and Burckhardt and colleagues later offered

evidence that the QOLS was valid in different populations, including healthy as well as

chronically ill adults (Burckhardt et al 1989, Meenan et al, 1980). The QOLS has been

used in studies of healthy adults and patients with rheumatic diseases, fibromyalgia,

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiac disease, spinal

cord injury, psoriasis, urinary stress incontinence, posttraumatic stress disorder, and

diabetes (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).










Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS)

The SWLS was administered to assess each participant' s "overall judgment of their

life in order to measure the concept of life satisfaction" (Diener et al., 1985, pp. 71-72).

The SWLS is a 5-item, 7-point Likert scale ranging from "delighted" to "terrible"(Diener

et al, 1985). Responses range from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree" on a 7-point

Likert scale. Scores are added, and the sum represents the degree of life satisfaction

(Table 3).

After a factor analysis was completed, criterion validity coefficients were obtained

to determine a life satisfaction rating. Diener et al. (1985) found that "the item total

correlations for the five SWLS items (.81, .63, .61, .75, and .66) showed a good level of

internal consistency for the scale" (p. 74). Furthermore, the SWLS (Diener et al., 1985)

"shows discriminant validity from emotional well-being measures" (Pavot & Diener,

1993, p. 164).

Table 2: Quality of life categories in five domains (Flanagan 1978)
Physical and material well-being
Material well-being and financial security
Health and personal safety
Relations with other people
Relations with spouse
Having and raising children
Relations with parents, siblings or other relatives
Relations with friends
Social, community and civic activities
Activities related to helping or encouraging other people
Activities relating to local and national governments
Personal development and fulfillment
Intellectual development
Personal understanding and planning
Occupational role
Creativity and personal expression
Recreation
Socializing
Passive and observational recreational activities
Active and participatory recreational activities











Table 3: SWLS score ranges (Diener et al., 1985)
31-35 Extremely Satisfied
26-30 Satisfied
21-25 Slightly Satisfied
20 Neutral
15-19 Slightly Dissatisfied
10-14 Dissatisfied
5-9 Extremely Dissatisfied


Data Analysis

When initially determining the distinction between optimistic participants and

pessimistic participants using their scores on the LOT, a quartile split was performed to

clearly delineate the separation in scores. Only the first (optimistic) and fourth

(pessimistic) quartiles were used in order to include clearly identifiable optimists and

pessimists, and therefore avoid confusion stemming from similar, more centralized

scores.

A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted using scores on the

LOT as independent variables, and using the QOL subscales as well as the SWLS as

dependent variables. Simple effects tests with Bonferroni corrected alpha levels were

used to evaluate significant interactions. Furthermore, since quality of life has been

defined in previous research in terms of life satisfaction (Burckhardt, 1985, Ferrans &

Powers 1985, Sexton & Munro 1988), the SWLS served as a convergence test for the

QOLS. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were used to correlate between

the SWLS with scores from the QOLS.

Finally, internal consistency of the LOT, as well as individual group scores on the

LOT and the SWLS, were estimated using alpha reliability (Chronbach, 1951). All






17


statistical analyses were run with the significance value set at p = .05. The Statistical

Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was utilized for the analyses of data in this study.















RESULTS

The scores from the QOL subscales (physical and material well-being, relations

with other people, social, community and civic activities, personal development and

fulfillment, and recreation) as well as SWLS scores were used as the dependent variables

when comparing differences in the mean scores for optimists and pessimists. According

to the assumption of homogeneity of variance, the variances of the dependent variables

should not be significantly different across both levels of the independent variable

(Grimm, 1993). No significant (p > .05) difference was found in the variances for

optimists or pessimists for any of the dependent variables; therefore the assumption for

homogeneity was met. Box's M test was performed with results being insignificant at the

.01 level. There were no significant gender differences [Wilk' s A = .93, F (5,

185) = 2.79, p >.01]. After the quartile split, 97 optimists and 96 pessimists were

discovered, with 69 being male and 124 being female (N = 193; Table 4). The results of

between subj ect analyses revealed that optimists scored higher on the QOLS subscale of

personal development and fulfillment [rl = .05, F (1, 192) = 10.03, p <.01] and on the

SWLS [r = .09, F (1, 192) =18.14, p <.01].

As for the MANOVA, there was a main effect for optimism [Wilk's A = .89, F (5,

185) = 4.71, p <.01]. The QOLS sub scale of physical and material well-being was

dropped from the main analysis because it had questionable reliability (a = .67).

Participants classified as optimists scored higher for the QOLS subscale of personal










development and fulfillment (a = .78), and recreation (a = .73), as well as for the SWLS

(a = .89). The other sub scales of the QOLS were not significant.

A positive correlation was found between satisfaction with life as measured by the

SWLS and quality of life as assessed by the QOLS, which was significantly (r = .551,

r2 = .304, p < .01) greater than zero (Table 5). The quality of life score from the QOLS

explained 30% of the variability in the SWLS scores.

The internal consistency reliability of both the LOT and the SWLS were examined

using alpha reliability (Chronbach, 1951). The overall alpha reliability scores for the LOT

and the SWLS were .842 and .902, respectively. Separate alpha reliability scores for

optimists (n=97) and pessimists (n=96), as well as individual group optimism differences

were also calculated. The alpha reliability scores were .820 (LOT-determined optimists)

and .859 (LOT-determined pessimists).

Table 4: Descriptive Statistics
Gender Optimist or Mean Standard N
Pessimist Deviation
Male Optimist 5.30 1.27 34
Personal Pessimist 5.03 1.28 35
Development Total 5.16 1.28 69
and Female Optimist 5.76 1.05 63
Fullfillment Pessimist 5.01 0.84 61
Total 5.39 1.02 124
Total Optimist 5.60 1.15 97
Pessimist 5.02 1.01 96
Total 5.31 1.12 193
Male Optimist 26.79 6.67 34
Satisfaction Pessimist 22.40 7.77 35
With Life Total 24.57 7.53 69
Scale Female Optimist 28.51 6.33 63
Pessimist 24.67 5.49 61
Total 26.62 6.22 124
Total Optimist 27.91 6.47 97
Pessimist 23.84 6.47 96
Total 25.89 6.77 193






20


Table 5: Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficients for the Relationship of
QOLS and SWLS (N = 367)

QOLS SWLS

QOLS- .551(p <.05)















DISCUSSION

This study was conducted to determine whether individuals classified as optimists

would correspondingly self-report higher quality of life and life satisfaction scores than

would pessimists. Optimism, or "the inclination to expect favorable life outcomes"

(Marshall et al., 1992, p. 1067), was measured by the Life Orientation Test (LOT;

Scheier & Carver, 1985). Quality of life, or an individual's judgment of whether his or

her personal life aspirations and achievements are being realized, was assessed using

Flanagan's Quality-of-life Scale (QOLS; 1978). Satisfaction with life, or "a global

assessment of a person's quality of life according to his chosen criteria" (Shin & Johnson,

1978, p. 478), was determined using the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et

al., 1985).

It was hypothesized that participants who fell into the "optimism" category

according to the LOT would exhibit a higher quality of life evidenced by higher scores on

the QOLS, and that optimistic participants would also report a higher satisfaction with

life through higher scores on the SWLS, than would participants who fell into the

"pessimism" category. This hypothesis was supported in the study, with optimists scoring

significantly higher than pessimists on both the SWLS and the QOLS subscale of

personal development and fulfillment. There were no significant differences in optimism

scores related to the gender, weekly activity level, or age of participants. This finding

corresponds with other studies concerning various measures of individual's content or









happiness compared with optimism, in which optimism tends to correlate with better

coping styles, as well as higher levels of overall psychological and physical well-being

(Myers & Steed, 1998),

An interesting finding in the current study was the generally high level of

optimism, life satisfaction, and quality of life in the sample, made up of undergraduate

college students. This corresponds with a 1998 study by Bailey & Miller, where it was

determined that the maj ority of college students in a sample of n = 243 were generally

satisfied with their lives, and with Moller' s 1996 study, in which "twice as many students

described themselves as satisfied rather than dissatisfied with their lives" (p. 21).

However, the mean QOLS score for optimists, which was higher, was only 84.13, which

is less than the normal healthy population's score of 90, especially considering that many

quality of life instruments tend to have negatively skewed means with most patients

reporting some degree of satisfaction across domains (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).

Limitations. The current study did contain some limitations, one of which was the

population that the sample was taken from. Participants consisted of undergraduate

students at a large southeastern university. The Eindings from this study may not be

generalizable to other populations and/or other geographical areas. There are also

questions on the QOLS that may not pertain to this population, such as questions

concerning relationships with children and spouse. Another possible limitation concerns

the use of the LOT to measure optimism. There have been criticisms of the LOT

describing its effects to positive response bias (Scheier et al., 1994), and researchers have

also found that the LOT may be confounded with neuroticism or negative affectivity

(Terrill et al., 2002). It is possible that more research needs to be undertaken concerning









the LOT's applicability and that it may need to be improved over time in order to quell

the skepticism voiced by researchers. In addition, this study has a possible limitation

stemming from the nature of the Likert scales used in the scales for the current study. The

Likert scale for the LOT is labeled in the opposite direction (1-delighted; to

5-dissatisfied) compared to the SWLS (1-strongly disagree; 7-strongly agree) and the

QOLS (1-terrible; 7-delighted). There is a possibility that this could cause confusion for

participants completing this particular combination of measures as a result of the varying

directions.

It seems fitting that having a more joyful outlook on the world would serve to

improve the quality of life and satisfaction with life. Because quality of life seems to be a

concept that overlaps from the psychological arena into the more medical one, it is

interesting to note that the results provided in this study may be worth studying from a

more medical and purely physical standpoint.

The possible implications of this study could be expanded upon to quite a large

degree. It seems that in recent years, a more holistic view of mental as well as physical

health has begun to come into the limelight of modern living. If it could be clearly

determined that having a more subj ectively positive or optimistic outlook on one' s life

could unwaveringly improve an individual's overall health and wellness, the next logical

step seems to be discovering whether it is possible to alter an individual's outlook to

become more positive, and if so, how that is to be effectively undertaken, in order to

improve the human experience.

Summary

This study hypothesized that optimists would report a better quality of life and

satisfaction with life than pessimists would report. The population consisted of









undergraduate students at a large southeastern university, comprised of 135 males and

231 females. The Life Orientation Test (LOT; Scheier & Carver, 1985) was used to

determine optimists and pessimists, quality of life was measured by the Quality-of-life

Scale (QOLS; Flanagan, 1978), and life satisfaction was measured using the Satisfaction

With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985).

The LOT, QOLS, and SWLS were combined into a paper-and pencil survey and

administered to 367 students. After entering LOT scores, a quartile split was performed,

with the outer quartiles representing optimism and pessimism so to avoid ambiguous

separations between the two groups, that could potentially have arisen considering the

original scale' s cutoff of one point between the two groups. The results of this study

supported the hypothesis by indicating that individuals who were identified as optimists

did have higher self-reported quality of life scores as well as life satisfaction scores than

did individuals identified as pessimists.

Conclusion

The results of the current study supported the notion that optimists enj oy their lives

more that pessimists do. Optimists scored higher on measures of life satisfaction and

quality of life. These findings help to further expand the views of psychological

constructs such as optimism and pessimism into more applicable ideals. This study

clearly demonstrates that there is a correlation between perceptions and quality of life, as

well as life satisfaction.

Implications for Future Research. Future research should be undertaken in order

to expand the general knowledge on how outlook affects the human experience. The LOT

has received criticisms concerning its susceptibility to positive response bias (Scheier et

al., 1994), so more research should be amassed to confirm its reliability as well as






25


validity. In addition, similar research should be undertaken for other populations, so

findings can become more generalizable.

















APPENDIX A
INFORMED CONSENT

Please Read This Entire Document Carefully Before Agreeing to Participate

TO: All Research Participants
FROM: Charis M. Brown
RE: Informed Consent

Study Title: Do Optimists Actually Have Better Lives? A Quasi-Experimental Optimism, Life
Satisfaction, and Quality of Life Study

Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study will be to expand the knowledge base concerning general
mood, life satisfaction, and quality of life by comparing individuals' optimism levels with self-reported life
satisfaction and quality of life.
What you will be asked to do: If you agree to participate in the study, you will be asked to participate in 3
surveys that will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Your answers on the survey will be kept
completely confidential to the extent permitted by law.
Time required: Approximately 10 minutes.

Risks and Benefits: There are no risks expected from participating in this study. A benefit in the form of
class extra credit may be awarded by your instructor/professor if appropriate. If so, you will be informed by
your instructor prior to participating in the study.
Compensation: No compensation will be provided.
Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Your
information will be assigned a code number, and individuals will not be identified by name but by the
assigned code number. The list connecting your name to this number along with all data will be kept
in a locked file in my faculty supervisor's office. When the study is complete and the data have been
analyzed, the list will be destroyed. Your name will not be used in any report, and the data analysis is
anonymous.

Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty
for not participating.


Right to withdraw: You have the right to withdraw from this study at any time without consequence.

Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Charis M. Brown, B.S., Masters Student,
Department of Health Education and Behavior, 110 Florida Gym, Box 118207, Gainesville, FL,
32611, 359-0580 x1374.
Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB Office, Box 112250,
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250; ph 392-0433.
Study Supervisor: Christine Boyd Stopka, Associate Professor, Department of Health Education and
Behavior, 100 Florida Gym, Box 118210, Gainesville, FL, 32611-8210, phone-392-0583 x1259,
estopka~hhp.ufl.edu

Agreement:







27


I have read the procedure above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have
received a copy of this description.


Participant: Date:


Principal Investigator: Date:















APPENDIX B
DEMOGRAPHICS QUESTIONNAIRE

1. Please indicate your gender.

Male

Female

2. Please indicate the age range in which you fall.

Under21 21-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65 +

3. Please indicate approximately how often you engage in at least 30 minutes of
moderate physical activity per week.

Less than 1 1-3 4-6 7 +

4. Please indicate which college your maj or is currently a part of.

Agricultural and Life Sciences Business Administration

Design, Construction and Planning Dentistry

Education Engineering

Fine Arts Health and Human Performance

Journalism and Communications Law

Liberal Arts and Sciences Medicine

Nursing Pharmacy

Public Health and Health Professions Veterinary Medicine















APPENDIX C
LIFE ORIENTATION TEST

Indicate the degree to which each of the items represents your feelings according to the
following code.
1 -Delighted

2 -Pleased

3 Mostly Satisfied

4 -Mixed

5 -Dissatisfied

1. I'm always optimistic about my future. 1 2 3 4 5

2. In uncertain times, I usually expect the best. 1 2 3 4 5

3. I always look on the bright side of things 1 2 3 4 5

4. If something can go wrong for me, it will. 1 2 3 4 5

5. It's easy for me to relax. 1 2 3 4 5

6. I hardly ever expect things to go my way. 1 2 3 4 5

7. I enj oy my friends a lot. 1 2 3 4 5

8. It's important for me to keep busy. 1 2 3 4 5

9. I rarely count on good things happening to me. 1 2 3 4 5

10. I'm a believer in the idea that "every cloud has a silver 1 2 3 4 5
lining."
11. I don't get upset too easily. 1 2 3 4 5

12. Things never work out the way I want them to. 1 2 3 4 5















APPENDIX D
QUALITY-OF-LIFE SCALE

Please read each item and circle the number that best describes how satisfied you are at
this time. Please answer each item even if you do not currently participate in an activity
or have a relationship. You can be satisfied or dissatisfied with not doing the activity or
having the relationship.
7 -Delighted

6 -Pleased

5 Mostly Satisfied

4 -Mixed

3 -Dissatisfied


2 -Unhappy

S- Terrible


1. Material comforts home, food, conveniences, financial
security
2. Health being physically fit and vigorous
3. Relationships with parents, siblings & other relatives-
communicating, visiting, helping
4. Having and rearing children
5. Close relationships with spouse or significant other
6. Close friends
7. Helping and encouraging others, volunteering, giving
advice
8. Participating in organizations and public affairs
9. Learning- attending school, improving understanding,
getting additional knowledge
10. Understanding yourself knowing your assets and
limitations knowing what life is about
11. Work job or in home
12. Expressing yourself creatively
13. Socializing meeting other people, doing things, parties,
etc
14. Reading, listening to music, or observing entertainment
15. Participating in active recreation


1 2 34 567


1 2 34 567















APPENDIX E
SATISFACTION WITH LIFE SCALE

Below are five statements that you may agree or disagree with. Using the 1 7 scale
below indicate your agreement with each item by circling the appropriate number. Please
be open and honest in your responding.

7 Strongly agree

6 -Agree

5 Slightly agree

4 Neither agree nor disagree

3 Slightly disagree

2 -Disagree

1 Strongly disagree


1. In most ways my life is close to my ideal. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

2. The conditions of my life are excellent. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

3. I am satisfied with my life. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

4. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

5. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Growing up in a small town in Virginia, I seemed to be the resident go-to person

for everyone's problems, hard times, and advice. My interest in the way the mind and

emotions worked followed me up through grade school, along with my passion for

volunteer work and community service.

My interest in individuals' perceptions and subjective experienced led me to pursue

a bachelor' s degree in psychology at the University of Central Florida. During my years

at UCF, I was a research assistant under a swimming teacher, who taught aquatic survival

skills to small children with a wide range of disabilities. I fell in love with that area of

work, and decided to pursue a Master' s degree at the University of Florida, with a

specialization in Adapted Physical Activity. Once at the university, my interests

broadened to a more holistic type of psychological and physical health, which has led me

to have the desire to acquire knowledge on the effects that mental states have on

previously-thought unrelated views of human experience.

I believe that western culture on the brink of a new paradigm concerning the more

internal world as just as important as the external world. My experiences and training at

the University of Florida have been invaluable and I feel incredibly fortunate to have

amassed the opportunities and education that I have received from this program. I look

forward to being able to say that I am a proud alumna of UF, and to carry that with me

into my future, where I hope to be able to give back what has been so graciously awarded

to me by my experiences.