Effects of optimism, pessimism, and trait anxiety on ambulatory blood pressure and mood during everyday life

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999 Jan;76(1):104-13. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.76.1.104.


This study tested whether dispositional measures of optimism, pessimism, and anxiety affected ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and mood and whether any cardiovascular effects of dispositions were moderated by mood. Pessimistic and anxious adults had higher BP levels and felt more negative and less positive than did optimists or low anxious adults throughout the monitoring. The few times that optimists did feel negative were associated with levels of BP as high as those observed among pessimists or anxious individuals, regardless of their mood. To the extent that trait anxiety measures neuroticism, these findings suggest that neuroticism is directly related to health indicators rather than simply to illness behavior. Furthermore, the results suggest that pessimism has broad physiological and psychological consequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Arousal
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Sick Role