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Title: Optimism across cultures: are Chinese more functionally optimistic and Westerners more defensively optimistic?
Authors: Wang, Jie
Department: Department of Applied Social Studies
Discipline: Social Psychology
Issue Date: 2005
Supervisor: Dr. Lai Julilan Chuk Ling
Subjects: Dispositional optimism
Unrealistic optimism
Future belief
Cultural difference
Abstract: Objectives: This study investigated cultural differences in optimism between Chinese and Westerners, when optimism was defined as dispositional optimism, unrealistic optimism, and belief about future. Methods: A total of 96 Chinese university students and 50 Western university students completed questionnaires that assess their dispositional optimism, unrealistic optimism, and belief about future events. The Revised Life Orientation Test (LOT-R) was used to assess participants’ dispositional optimism. To assess participants’ unrealistic optimism and belief about future events, a list of events (including both positive and negative) was given to them and they were asked to evaluate the probability that these events would happen to themselves and to the average student. Results: No significant cultural difference was found on dispositional optimism, but Western participants were more unrealistic optimistic than Chinese participants. Furthermore, no significant cultural difference was obtained on either belief about future personal events or belief about future world events. Considering the relationship between different optimisms, both dispositional optimism and unrealistic optimism were predictor for belief about future personal events, but only among Chinese participants. Finally, a weak correlation between belief about future personal events and future world events was found, but also only among Chinese participants. Discussion: The findings suggest that, even for Chinese, who value collective self greatly, optimism about one’s personal future may not generalize to the perception of the world’s future. This gives support to Wenglert and Rosén’s (2000) argument, that personal optimism and world optimism reflect different constructs, and they do not necessarily correlate with each other. It can be suggested that for a scale used to measure one’s optimistic level, the subscale of belief about future world events may not be required to be included.
Appears in Collections:Applied Social Sciences - Undergraduate Final Year Projects - Psychology

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