University of Oulu

Karhu, J., Hintsanen, M., Ek, E., Koskela, J., & Veijola, J. (2022). Dispositional optimism and pessimism in association with cognitive abilities in early and middle adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 196, 111710.

Dispositional optimism and pessimism in association with cognitive abilities in early and middle adulthood

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Author: Karhu, Jutta1; Hintsanen, Mirka1; Ek, Ellen2;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Psychology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 2000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Center for Life Course research, University of Oulu, Aapistie 5 b, P.O. Box 5000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
3Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4600, 90014 Oulu, Finland
4Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 5000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
5Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Oulu, 90220 Oulu, Finland
6Medical Research Center, University of Oulu & University Hospital of Oulu, 90220 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-10-11


The aim of the current study was to examine the associations of dispositional optimism and pessimism with cognitive abilities in adulthood. We performed two studies with data sets from the prospective Northern Finland Birth Cohort Studies: 26-year-olds (N = 383) and 46-year-olds (N = 5042). In both samples, dispositional optimism and pessimism were measured with Carver and Scheier’s Life Orientation Test -Revised. In the data of 26-year-olds, the cognitive abilities assessed were reasoning, vocabulary, verbal fluency, fine-motor skills, selective attention, impulse control, and memory, while in 46-year-olds, memory was assessed. The analyses were carried out using multiple linear regression, and the associations were adjusted for gender, educational level, mother’s educational level, and depression. Our results indicated that (I.) higher dispositional optimism and lower pessimism were associated with higher reasoning skills in young adults, and (II.) higher pessimism was related to lower scores on memory test in middle-aged adults. The findings provide a closer look on how dispositional optimism and pessimism are associated with the core cognitive abilities in adults.

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Series: Personality and individual differences
ISSN: 0191-8869
ISSN-E: 1873-3549
ISSN-L: 0191-8869
Volume: 196
Article number: 111710
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2022.111710
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3112 Neurosciences
515 Psychology
Funding: This work was supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, North Ostrobothnia Regional Fund. The funding source had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, writing of the report, or in the decision to submit the article for publication.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (