A multimethod approach examining the relative contributions of optimism and pessimism to cardiovascular disease risk markers

John M. Felt, Michael A. Russell, John M. Ruiz, Jillian A. Johnson, Bert N. Uchino, Matthew Allison, Timothy W. Smith, Daniel J. Taylor, Chul Ahn, Joshua Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Although dispositional optimism and pessimism are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), their relative independence and unique contributions to CVD risk are unclear. This study addressed these issues by using multiple indicators of optimism and pessimism and linking them to objective risk factors for CVD. A diverse sample of adults (N = 300) completed baseline assessments (including global reports of optimism and pessimism), a 2-day/1-night EMA protocol with ambulatory blood pressure (BP) at 45-min intervals, and had inflammatory markers and carotid intima media imaging collected. EMA reports of momentary positive and negative expectations were averaged to form intraindividual (person) means of optimism and pessimism, respectively. Optimism and pessimism were only modestly correlated between- and within-assessment methods. Higher pessimism, regardless of assessment method, predicted both lower odds of whether BP dipping occurred and a smaller degree of dipping, but was unrelated to other biomarkers. Optimism was not uniquely predictive of CVD risk factors. Pessimism thus appears to exhibit stronger relative contribution to risk indicators of CVD than optimism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-849
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Ambulatory blood pressure
  • Carotid artery stenosis
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Inflammatory markers
  • Optimism
  • Pessimism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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