Relations between optimism, stress and health in Chinese and American students
AuthorSong, Zhi Ying
KeywordsHealth Sciences, Mental Health.
Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies.
AdvisorSchwartz, Gary E. R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPrevious research indicates that optimism may have considerable positive effects on mental and physical health. However, only a few previous studies have explored differential effects of optimism on health and none have examined the effects of different levels of optimism. This study supports the importance of optimism on health in a sample of 238 Chinese college students and 206 American college students. Comparative results indicated that there were significant differences on measures of two levels of optimism, pessimism, and indicators of health. In general, American students were found to express more dispositional optimistic belief, better mental health, and lower state and trait stress levels than Chinese students. However, there was no difference in the level of explanatory optimism. In addition, there was no significant difference between Chinese subjects' scores of overall health and American students' scores. Chinese students demonstrate a "middle optimism" style. In addition, both optimistic styles in this study were found to be significantly related to stressful states measured by State Anxiety (Y1) Scale and Trait Anxiety Scale (Y2) in Chinese students. In contrast, in American samples, only the dispositional optimism, the big optimism, was found significantly but negatively related to the trait stress. In this study, the association between optimism and health---either little or big optimism---were not different between the two cultures, while the association between optimism and stress was quite different between the two cultures. In the Chinese students, the association between big optimism and stress was stronger than in the American students. Both moderate and mediate models were tested to clarify some of the mechanism among culture, gender, optimism/pessimism, stress and health. Culture was moderating the relation between optimism (big vs. little optimism) and three health components. Gender on the other hand, had no moderating effect in the relationship of big vs. little optimism/pessimism on any health outcomes. The prediction that stress is the moderator in the prediction of optimism on health was not supported in both cultural groups. However, either big or little optimism were found fully mediated by state or trait stress on overall health conditions as well as the physical and mental health, except that the little optimism was not found to be related to mental health. Among the American students, on the other hand, optimism as dominate predictor directly effected reports of health. Stress was not found to be a mediator in the predictive relationship of optimism and health in the American students.
Degree ProgramGraduate College