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Optimism, or positive expectations about the future, is associated with better health. It is commonly assessed as a trait, but it may change over time and circumstance. Accordingly, we developed a measure of state optimism.


An initial 29-item pool was generated based on literature reviews and expert consultations. It was administered to three samples: sample 1 was a general healthy population (n = 136), sample 2 was people with cardiac disease (n = 96), and sample 3 was persons recovering from problematic substance use (n = 265). Exploratory factor analysis and item-level descriptive statistics were used to select items to form a unidimensional State Optimism Measure (SOM). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was performed to test fit.


The selected seven SOM items demonstrated acceptable to high factor loadings on a single dominant factor (loadings: 0.64–0.93). There was high internal reliability across samples (Cronbach's alphas: 0.92–0.96), and strong convergent validity correlations in hypothesized directions. The SOM's correlations with other optimism measures indicate preliminary construct validity. CFA statistics indicated acceptable fit of the SOM model.


We developed a psychometrically-sound measure of state optimism that can be used in various settings. Predictive and criterion validity will be tested in future studies.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in General Hospital Psychiatry. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in General Hospital Psychiatry, volume 58, in 2019.

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