Optimism and attentional bias for negative and positive stimuli

Suzanne C. Segerstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Optimism, or positive outcome expectancy, correlates with better psychological and physiological adjustment, in part because of conscious behavior such as coping. However, procedural, automatic, and unconscious processes also may affect adjustment. The emotional Stroop task was used to assess the relationships between optimism and unconscious attentional bias for positively valenced, negatively valenced, neutral current concern, and neutral control stimuli. Undergraduate students (n = 48) completed personality measures at the beginning of the semester and computed the Stroop task under separate cover. Optimism was associated with a greater attentional bias for positive stimuli relative to negative stimuli. Optimism also was associated with slower skin conductance response rates during negative stimuli. Unconscious attentional biases may contribute to the better adjustment associated with optimism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1334-1343
Number of pages10
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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