Differential predictive power of the positively versus the negatively worded items of the Life Orientation Test

Psychol Rep. 1994 Dec;75(3 Pt 2):1507-15. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1994.75.3f.1507.


A self-report measure of dispositional optimism, the Life Orientation Test, was administered to a group of 202 Hong Kong undergraduates. Consistent with prior findings, factor analysis yielded a two-factor solution with all positively worded items loaded on the first factor and all the negatively worded items loaded on the second. Prediction of physical symptom reports from scores on the two subscales was then tested with 85 subjects randomly selected from the original sample. Only the complete test and the subscale defined by the positively phrased items predicted symptom levels concurrently as well as prospectively over 3 wk. The negative subscale suggested by previous research as tapping pessimism rather than dispositional optimism showed no significant correlation with symptom levels. Moreover, when scores of the positive rather than the negative subscale were controlled, the significant correlation between scores on the Life Orientation Test and symptom reports was eliminated. These findings suggested a multidimensional view of the test and that the positive subscale may be sufficient to measure optimism validly. Implications of these for the personality dimensions of positive versus negative affectivity are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Attitude*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Perception*
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology