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

Mayo Clin Proc. 2002 Aug;77(8):748-53. doi: 10.4065/77.8.748.


Objective: 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).

Patients and methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusion: 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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • MMPI
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies