Being optimismtic may not always be advantageous: The relationship between dispositional optimism, coping, and performance

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Conference Proceeding

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The effects of dispositional optimism on performance and self-reports of coping strategy were examined in a low and a high signal salience vigilance task performed in quiet or during exposure to jet-aircraft engine noise. The results of this study partially support Scheier and Carver's (1985; 1987) habitual coping styles theory, in which people varying in optimism differ in their general coping strategies. Optimism in most cases correlated positively with task-focused coping and negatively with off-task approaches. When the task setting elicited a coping style contrary to dispositional preference, however, performance was actually impaired. In the low-salience, quiet condition of this experiment optimism correlated negatively with performance; this condition also elicited elevated levels of maladaptive, off-task coping. Being highly optimistic may not always be an advantage in performance settings.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society