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Mayo Clin Proc. 2002 Aug;77(8):748-53.

Optimism-pessimism assessed in the 1960s and self-reported health status 30 years later.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn 55905, USA.



To study the association between explanatory style, using scores from the Optimism-Pessimism (PSM) scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), and self-reported health status, using scores from the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36).


A total of 447 patients who completed the MMPI between 1962 and 1965 as self-referred general medical outpatients and also completed the SF-36 thirty years later compose the current study sample. The associations between the scores on the SF-36 and the MMPI PSM scale were evaluated by analysis of variance and linear regression analysis.


Of 447 patients, 101 were classified as optimistic, 272 as mixed, and 74 as pessimistic. Scores on all 8 health concept domains from the SF-36 were significantly poorer in the pessimistic group than in both the optimistic and the mixed group.


A pessimistic explanatory style, reflected by higher PSM scale scores, was significantly associated with a self-report of poorer physical and mental functioning on the SF-36 30 years later.

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