Childhood adversities, parent-child relationships and dispositional optimism in adulthood

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2004 Apr;39(4):286-92. doi: 10.1007/s00127-004-0740-x.


Background: Studies exploring the effects of childhood adversities and parent-child relationship on adulthood dispositional optimism are rather rare, have been performed on small, selected samples and lack analyses of interaction between childhood factors.

Method: A total of 19970 working-aged Finns responded to the population-based HeSSup Study baseline questionnaire in 1998. The level of dispositional optimism (measured with the LOT-R scale) was analyzed according to self-reported childhood adversities, childhood parent-child relationships and their interaction, using multivariate linear regression analysis methods. A number of potential confounding factors (education, living alone, recent life events, somatic health and depressive mood) were taken into account.

Results: Childhood adversities were associated with decreasing optimism in a dose-response manner. Good parent-child relationships were associated with increasing optimism, with a partial buffering effect when confronting adversities.

Conclusion: Those reporting childhood adversities and poor parent-child relationships had less optimistic expectations, which may need to be addressed in clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Rearing
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament*