Carver, C. S., Lehman, J. M., & Antoni, M. H. (2003). Dispositional pessimism predicts illness-related disruption of social and recreational activities among breast cancer patients. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 813-821.

We tested whether dispositional pessimism would predict withdrawal from social activities among women treated for breast cancer. In a cross-sectional sample 3-12 months post-surgery, disruption of social and recreational activities (by the Sickness Impact Profile) correlated with concurrently assessed pessimism. This association appeared mediated by emotional distress and fatigue. A longitudinal sample was studied shortly post-surgery and over the next year. Initial pessimism predicted disruption of social activities concurrently and prospectively (3, 6, and 12 months later), but predicted change in disruption from one time to the next only at final follow-up. These associations appeared partially mediated by distress. We conclude pessimism places patients at risk for adverse outcomes in several respects, rather than solely with regard to emotional distress.

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University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology