Dispositional optimism and physical wellbeing: The relevance of culture, gender, and socioeconomic status

Khallad Y.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, vol.48, no.5, pp.978-985, 2013 (SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 48 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00207594.2012.695795
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.978-985
  • Keywords: Dispositional optimism, Culture, Gender, Physical symptoms, Socioeconomic status, HEALTH, SYMPTOMS
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


The present study examined the relationship between dispositional optimism and physical wellbeing (as reflected in physical symptom reporting) in two groups of American and Jordanian college students. It also assessed moderation effects of culture, gender, and socioeconomic status (SES). Participants were administered a questionnaire consisting of items pertaining to dispositional optimism (as measured by the Revised Life Orientation Test, LOT-R) along with items assessing physical symptom reporting and sociodemographic factors (e.g., gender, socioeconomic status). The results revealed significant negative correlations between dispositional optimism and physical symptom reporting for both American and Jordanian participants, although the magnitude of the correlation for the American group was noticeably larger than that for the Jordanian group. The results also showed that women, especially Jordanians, were more likely than men to report physical symptoms. Among Jordanians, physical symptom reporting was more common among those of lower SES. No statistically significant differences in physical symptom reporting were found between American men and women or between the two cultural groups. Multiple regression analyses revealed no statistically significant interactions between optimism and cultural background, optimism and gender, or optimism and SES. Overall, the results suggest that optimism is the factor most predictive of physical symptom reporting, followed by SES and gender. These results corroborate previous findings on the relationship between dispositional optimism and physical wellbeing, and point to crosscultural differences in relationship patterns. These differences suggest that although personality characteristics such as optimism may play an important role in the physical wellbeing of both Western and non-Western groups, the influence of sociodemographic factors such as gender and SES and their interaction with cultural variables must not be overlooked.