Global positive expectancies in adolescence and health-related behaviours: longitudinal models of latent growth and cross-lagged effects

Psychol Health. 2012;27(8):916-37. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2011.633241. Epub 2011 Dec 12.


Constructs representative of global positive expectancies (GPE) such as dispositional optimism and hope have been theoretically and empirically linked to many positive mental and physical health outcomes. However such expectancies' health implications for adolescents, as well as their trajectory over time, are less well understood than for adult populations. This study tested whether GPE predict the key indicators of adolescents' future physical health status, their health-related behaviours. A prospective longitudinal study design was employed whereby a diverse population-based cohort (N = 744; mean age at baseline = 12) completed three surveys over approximately 18 months. Rigorous tests of causal predominance and reciprocal effects were conducted through latent growth and cross-panel structural equation models. Results showed GPE systematically decreased during the course of the study, yet higher initial levels of GPE predicted less alcohol drinking, healthier food choice and greater physical activity over time. GPE's protective relationships towards health protective behaviours (vs. health risk behaviours that also included tobacco smoking) appear more independent from depressive symptomatology, and the primary findings were robust across socio-demographic groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Depression
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Smoking