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Optimism Questionnaire

Instructions: Read the description of each situation and vividly imagine it happening to you. It is likely that you have not experienced some or even most of these situations, but that does not matter. If neither response seems to fit for you, go ahead anyhow and answer either A or B, choosing the one that seems more likely. You may not like some of the responses offered, but don't choose what you think you should say or what would sound right to other people; choose the response that would be most likely for you.

1. You get a flower from a secret admirer.  
 A.I am a popular person. 1
 B.I am attractive to someone. 0
2. You run for a community office position and you win.  
 A.I devote a lot of time and energy to campaigning. 0
 B.I work very hard at everything I do. 1
3. You miss an important engagement.  
 A. Sometimes my memory fails me. 0
 B.I sometimes forget to check my appointment book. 1
4. You fail an important examination.  
 A.I wasn't as smart as the other people taking the exam. 0
 B.I didn't prepare for it well. 1
5. You prepared a special meal for a friend and he or she barely touched the food  
 A.I made the meal in a rush. 1
 B.I wasn't a good cook. 0
6. You lose a sporting event for which you have been training for a long time.  
 A .I'm not good at that sport. 1
 B.I am not very athletic. 0
7. You ask someone out on a date and he or she says no.  
 A.I was a wreck that day. 0
 B.I got tongue-tied when I asked him or her on the date. 1
8. Your boss gives you too little time in which to finish a project, but you get it done anyway.  
 A.I am an efficient person. 1
 B.I am good at my job. 0
9. You save a person from choking to death.  
 A.I know a technique to stop someone from choking. 0
 B.I know what to do in crisis situations. 1
10. Your employer comes to you for advice.  
 A.I am an expert in the area about which I was asked. 0
 B.I am good at giving useful advice. 1
11. A friend thanks you for helping him or her get through a bad time.  
 A.I care about people. 1
 B.I enjoy helping him or her through tough times. 0
12. Your doctor tells you that you are in good physical shape.  
 A.I make sure I exercise frequently. 0
 B.I am very health conscious. 1
13. You win a prestigious award.  
 A.I was the best employee. 1
 B.I solved an important problem. 0
14. A store won't honor your credit card.  
 A.I sometimes overestimate how much money I have. 0
 B.I sometimes forget to pay my credit card bill. 1
15. Your stocks are at an all-time low.  
 A.I didn't know much about the business climate at the time. 0
 B.I made a poor choice of stocks. 1
16. Your romantic partner wants to cool things off for a while.  
 A.I don't spend enough time with him or her. 0
 B. I'm too self-centered. 1


If your score is 14 to 16, you are very optimistic.

If your score is 12 to 13, you are moderately optimistic.

If your score is 8 to 11, you vacillate between optimism and pessimism.

If you score is 6 to 7, you are moderately pessimistic.

If your score is below 6, you are very pessimistic.

How to Become an Optimist

Dr. Seligman offers a variety of suggestions for channeling your thinking in an optimistic direction. Many of the cognitive techniques for doing this are similar or identical to the cognitive restructuring methods for defusing irrational thinking. This is not surprising, because in many instances pessimism is just one form of irrational thinking. Optimism is not about being unjustifiably positive about the world, but rather about learning to challenge negative thinking. Learning to think optimistically involves learning to dispute pessimistic thoughts. Dr. Seligman recommends the following four strategies for defusing negativity.



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