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.