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Philippa J. Clarke photo

The Social and Economic Dynamics of Optimism and Hopelessness over American Adulthood: Evidence from the Americans Changing Lives Study (1986-2011)

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Philippa J. Clarke, Sarah Burgard, Miles Kimball, Nancy Ambrose Gallagher, Michael R. Elliott, Jacqui E. Smith

Optimism is typically viewed as a fairly stable trait with positive consequences for health and life chances. However optimism may also be socially constructed, exhibiting variability over adulthood as a result of life events, health, and role transitions. Using 25 years of nationally representative longitudinal data gathered prospectively on Americans across the full adult life course, we will conduct an integrated series of secondary data analyses that examine the social and economic antecedents of optimism (and hopelessness) and their consequences for health and mortality in mid to late life. This will be the first study to examine the antecedents and consequences of optimism over such a long period using nationally representative data, and to measure both optimism and hope as captured in the same dataset.

Funding Period: 05/01/2015 to 05/31/2017

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