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Optimism, motivational coping and well-being: evidence supporting the importance of flexible goal adjustment

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It has repeatedly been shown that dispositional optimism, a generalized positive outcome expectancy, is associated with greater physical and psychological well-being. Coping has been proposed to mediate this purportedly causal relationship. From an expectancy-value perspective on motivation, optimists' confidence leads them to tenaciously pursue goals. However, the ability to flexibly adjust goals might serve optimists' ability to deal with adversity particularly well. This study investigated motivational coping (tenacious goal pursuit and flexible goal adjustment) as the mechanism linking dispositional optimism to several indices of well-being (general well-being, depression, anxiety and physical complaints) by means of a questionnaire study in the general population. Results of this study confirmed that motivational coping-primarily in the form of flexible goal adjustment-mediates the relationship between optimism and all indices of well-being except physical complaints. Furthermore, coping by flexibly adjusting one's goals is generally a more prominent pathway to well-being than tenaciously pursuing those goals.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1525-1537
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015