Optimism, hostility, and adjustment in the first year of high school

Boman, Peter & Yates, Gregory C. R. (2001) Optimism, hostility, and adjustment in the first year of high school. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 71(3), pp. 401-411.


Background. The period of transition to high school is marked by large variations in student adjustment patterns. Many students make successful adjustments but others do not and are at risk of developing hostile attitudes towards their school environment. Aims. This study sought to investigate the role of optimism and pessimism in predicting the extent of hostility students express towards school. Sample. The sample consisted of 102 students who completed questionnaires at the beginning of the school year, and also in the last term of their first year at high school. Methods. Students responded to questionnaires assessing their levels of (a) dispositional optimism and pessimism, (b) personal expectancies for the occurrence of specific negative events, and (c) depression and anxiety. Additional data concerning hostility to school, perceived classroom involvement, and student adjustment (self-reported and teacher-reported) to school measures were collected at the end of the year. Results. In general, the girls reported greater levels of positive adjustment than boys. It was found that optimism together with expectations of negative events accounted for 21% of the variance in school hostility. In addition, optimism was significantly related to classroom involvement and to students' self-reported adjustment. Teachers' ratings of student adjustment were related only to gender. Only 15 (12 male, 3 female) of the 102 students were clearly hostile towards the school. Conclusions. We conclude that young people are vulnerable to adjustment problems when levels of dispositional optimism are not sufficiently strong to counteract high expectations about the possibility of specific negative events occurring.

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19 citations in Scopus
15 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 13154
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal's website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Transition, Grammar school, School adaptation, Optimism pessimism, Hostility, Personality, Preadolescent, Adolescent, Human
ISSN: 0007-0998
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2001 The British Psychological Society
Deposited On: 26 Mar 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2009 08:13

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