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The gaze of the optimist.

Authors
  • Isaacowitz, Derek M
Type
Published Article
Journal
Personality & social psychology bulletin
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2005
Volume
31
Issue
3
Pages
407–415
Identifiers
PMID: 15657455
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Two studies used eye tracking to investigate the attentional preferences of optimists and pessimists to negative emotional stimuli. In both studies, optimistic and pessimistic college students viewed three types of visual stimuli while having their eye movements tracked: skin cancer (melanoma) images, matched schematic line drawings, and neutral faces. In the first study, participants were asked to view the images naturally, whereas in the second study, some participants received a relevance manipulation. Percentage of fixation time to the different images was measured. Optimists showed selective inattention to the skin cancer images, even after controlling for attention to matched schematic line drawings. This relationship remained significant in both studies after controlling for the effects of neuroticism, affect, anxiety, relevance, and perceptual variables. These data suggest that optimists may indeed wear "rose-colored glasses" in their processing of information from the world.

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