International Optimism: Correlates and Consequences of Dispositional Optimism across 61 Countries

Erica BARANSKI*, Kate SWEENY, Gwendolyn GARDINER, David C. FUNDER, International Situation Project, Victoria Wai-Lan YEUNG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The current exploratory study sought to examine dispositional optimism, or the general expectation for positive outcomes, around the world.

Dispositional optimism and possible correlates were assessed across 61 countries (N = 15,185; mean age = 21.92; 77% female). Mean‐level differences in optimism were computed along with their relationships with individual and country‐level variables.

Worldwide, mean optimism levels were above the midpoint of the scale. Perhaps surprisingly, country‐level optimism was negatively related to GDP per capita, population density, and democratic norms and positively related to income inequality and perceived corruption. However, country‐level optimism was positively related to projected economic improvement. Individual‐level optimism was positively related to individual well‐being within every country, although this relationship was less strong in countries with challenging economic and social circumstances.

While individuals around the world are generally optimistic, societal characteristics appear to affect the degree to which their optimism is associated with psychological well‐being, sometimes in seemingly anomalous ways.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Personality
Early online date7 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. The Center for Open Science built and hosted the multi-lingual data-gathering website. The research was supported by the US National Science Foundation under Grant BCS-1528131. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the individual researchers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Data gathering in the Czech Republic was supported by grant 17-14387S by the Czech Science Foundation and by institutional research funding RVO: 68081740 from the Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences. Data gathering in Chile was partly supported by the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (FONDAP 15130009) and Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Research (CIIR) (FONDAP 15110006)


  • cross-cultural
  • dispositional optimism
  • well-being


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