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Med Sci Monit. 2012 Jan;18(1):CR39-43.

Level of optimism and health behavior in athletes.

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Department of Health Psychology, Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sport, Gdansk, Poland.



Persons with an optimistic attitude do not give up despite obstacles and failures. Optimistic athletes compete more out of hope for success than out of fear of defeat. The purpose of my research was to determine if optimism also promotes good health behavior in athletes.


In order to measure the role of optimism in shaping the health behavior of athletes, I examined a group of women (N=147) and men (N=385) who were currently in training for athletic competition. The control group consisted of women (N=262) and men (N=435) who were not and had never been competitive athletes. The "O-P" Attitude Questionnaire was used to measure optimism, while health behavior was measured with the Juczynski Health Behavior Inventory, which measures proper nutrition habits, preventive behavior, positive attitude, and healthy practices.


The level of pessimism in these athletes was average. The female athletes were less pessimistic than the female controls. A similar, highly significant difference occurred between the male athletes and non-athletes. Gender did not differentiate the level of optimism in either group. Among the women, optimism correlated with healthy practices, such as daily sleep and recreation habits, or physical activity. The greater the pessimism increased, positive attitudes declined in the female controls, the female athletes, and the male controls.


The athletes displayed greater optimism than the controls. Among the women, optimism correlated with good health practices.

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