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The relationships among optimism, pessimism, hope, and internalizing problems in adolescents

14 April 2006


Previous research with both adolescents and adults has found optimism to be of critical importance in the prevention of psychopathology. Few studies, howyever, have explored the mechanisms through which optimism creates positive outcomes. Previous research in adults shows that the influence of optimism is mediated by engagement coping strategies: optimism contributes to positive coping strategies, which in turn reduce psychopathology and other negative outcomes. This study examined the relationship between optimism and intemalizing problems in 103 adolescents while also examining coping responses as possible mediators. The constructs of optimism and hope wefealso compared in relation to their ability to predict coping and internalizing problems. Results showed that optimism and hope were both significantly negatively correlated with. internalizing problems in adolescents, but that optimism was a much better predictor of internalizing problems than hope. Engagement coping was not found to mediate the relationship between optimism and internalizing problems. Moreover, it was actually found to suppress the relationship between the two variables. Implications for intervention and future research are discussed.


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