Seligman's theory of attributional style: Optimism, pessimism, and quality of life after heart transplant

Sheila Jowsey, Susanne Cutshall, Robert Colligan, Susanna Stevens, Walter Kremers, Adriana Vasquez, Brooks Edwards, Richard Daly, Christopher McGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Context-Posttransplant quality of life can be significantly affected by personality characteristics identified before transplant.Objective-Although overall quality of life in heart transplant patients improves after transplant, many studies reveal poorer mental health outcomes after transplant. We aimed to determine whether transplant recipients with an optimistic explanatory style had improved quality of life, fewer depressive symptoms, and increased survival.Design-We reviewed 68 patients who had completed a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory a mean of 2 years before transplant and examined associations between scores on the Optimism-Pessimism scale, survival rates, and results from the Health Status Questionnaire nearly 4 years after transplant.Results-Optimism was significantly associated with higher quality of life even after age (at the time of transplant), sex, depression score before transplant, time from the personality inventory to transplant, and time from transplant to the Health Status Questionnaire were controlled for. Furthermore, a pessimistic explanatory style was significantly associated with self-reported depressive symptoms, even after depression before transplant was adjusted for. Neither optimism nor pessimism was associated with length of survival.Conclusions-Pretransplant patients with a pessimistic explanatory style reported depressive symptoms nearly 5 years later. Furthermore, over the same time span, patients with an optimistic explanatory style described a significantly higher quality of life than the pessimists described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
JournalProgress in Transplantation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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