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Introduction

In this entry, we review approaches to the measurement of optimism and the closely related construct of hope. Emphasis is placed on existing measures, but we also discuss assessment issues to be addressed in future research.

Etymological History of Optimism and Hope

The term optimism and its ostensible cousin pessimism are relatively recent arrivals on the historical scene (Siçinski, 1972). In the 1700s, Leibniz characterized optimism as a mode of thinking, and Voltaire popularized the term in his 1759 novel Candide, which was critical of the apparent shallowness of optimism. Pessimism appeared a century later, independently introduced by Schopenhauer and Coleridge.

In their original forms, optimism and pessimism were not symmetric. Optimism as discussed by Leibniz was cognitive, reflecting a judgement that good would predominate over evil, even ...

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