Behavioral Research

Table of Contents
1 Definition and History
2 Methodological Issues
3 Measures and Measurements

Usefulness of Constructs and Measures



6 References
7 Measure Appendix
8 Published Examples

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Other Constructs



Dispositional Optimism




Illness Representations

  Implementation Intentions
  Intention, Expectation, and Willingness
  Normative Beliefs
  Optimistic Bias
  Perceived Benefits
  Perceived Control
  Perceived Severity
  Perceived Vulnerability
  Self-Reported Behavior
  Social Influence
  Social Support

Dispositional Optimism
Charles S. Carver

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Usefulness of Constructs and Measures

The constructs of optimism (assessed both directly as expectancies and indirectly as attributional tendencies) and hope have been examined in a great many studies. They have proven to be quite useful as predictors of behavior and emotional experiences in a wide variety of settings (Bandura, 1997; Scheier et al., 2001; Peterson & Bossio, 2001; Snyder, 2002). There is little question that they are useful, in terms of accounting for substantial variance in well-being (Carver et al., 2005). There remains some disagreement, however, about whether they are more useful as constructs than are competitors, such as control, self-efficacy, extraversion, and neuroticism.

It might be argued that the disagreement should be easy to resolve. Whichever construct does a better job of predicting relevant outcomes should be the construct of preference. However, that answer turns out to be too simplistic. There are several problems. One problem is that there may be diverse relevant outcomes, some of which are predicted better by one construct, others by another construct. Another problem is that even if prediction was better for one measure than for another, it might mean that the one measure is better than the other, not that one construct is better than the other.

Which construct a researcher prefers depends in part on which theoretical background the researcher finds most congenial. Given that there is a great diversity among theoretical analyses of individual differences (Carver & Scheier, 2004), different people are likely to gravitate to different constructs. Those who are most comfortable with the 5-factor model of personality will tend to prefer extraversion and neuroticism; those who are most fond of views that emphasize human agency will tend to prefer control, self-efficacy, or hope. What is clearest is not which specific construct is best, but rather that this family of constructs is very useful. It will take more work to sort out whether one of them is more useful than another in a given context.

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