Children and the Power of Optimism

by Alyssa Kluver
Faculty advisor: Dr. Wind Goodfriend

In the life of a child, having an optimistic outlook may make all the difference when dealing with life stressors. The purpose of this study was to determine if priming a child to think optimistically about tomorrow will decrease the child’s score on depression and anxiety. One group of participants wrote a short story about something that could happen tomorrow (control condition), while another group of participants wrote a short story about something exciting that could happen tomorrow that would make them happy (optimism condition). Participants then completed three scales: optimism (Albery & Messer, 2005), depression (Beck, Beck, & Jolly, 2001), and anxiety (Beck et al., 1988). Results are expected to show that children primed to view tomorrow optimistically will have lower scores on both anxiety and depression compared to those children not primed (a main effect of condition). In addition, regardless of condition, boys are expected to rate higher in optimism, while girls will rate higher on the anxiety scale in both conditions (a main effect of participant sex). Finally, a positive correlation between depression and anxiety is expected. With an increasingly complicated world, finding a mechanism to decrease childhood anxiety and depression is essential.