How does optimism change over the lifespan and how do changes predict health and well-being? In a pre-registered analysis of the Rochester Adult Longitudinal Study, we examined changes in and outcomes of optimism over 25 years (1989–2014) in 984 adults aged 16–70. Optimism increased over time similarly across participants. However, more optimistic participants at baseline reported engaging in healthier behaviors, better health, higher life satisfaction, and higher purpose in life 25 years later. Disaggregating health behaviors, we found that health-behavior-effects were specific to physical activity and abstaining from harmful substances/food. Because participants increased in optimism at similar rates, more work is needed to examine whether changes in optimism predict outcomes, and what factors account for the homogenous change observed here.
- Lifespan development
- Rochester Adult Longitudinal Study
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- General Psychology