The influence of optimism and pessimism on the psycho-physical wellness of learners in grades 8-12
Radebe, Sitimela Joseph
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The aim of this study was to assess secondary school learners' optimistic and pessimistic orientations and the influence they have on their physical and psychological wellness. In the empirical investigation, a survey was conducted on the influence of optimistic and pessimistic orientation on the psycho-physical wellness of learners in secondary schools in the Vaal Triangle in Gauteng Province. Optimism and pessimism were investigated, using the Life Orientation Test - Revised (LOT- R) of Scheier, Carver and Bridges (1994). Physical and psychological wellness was investigated, using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) of Goldberg and Hillier (1991). Findings from the literature indicate that optimistic learners believe that the future holds positive opportunities with successful outcomes and this optimism is related to active, persistent, health-oriented coping, while pessimism is linked to more emotional distress, health concerns and negative coping. Pessimistic learners, on the other hand, are more stressed, depressed, anxious and lonely. They have more health concerns and poorer health during their teen years. In terms of coping strategies, pessimism has been related to the use of denial, substance abuse and disengagement. These types of coping behaviour seem to represent a giving-up response. The results of the empirical research showed that, the majority of respondents were feeling perfectly well and in good health; did not need any good tonic; did not feel run down and out of sorts; were not feeling ill; they were not getting a feeling of tightness or pressure in their heads; did not have hot or cold spells; did not lose much sleep over worry; did not have difficulty in staying asleep; were not getting edgy and bad-tempered; were not getting scared or panicky for no good reason; nothing was getting them down; and were not feeling nervous and strung-up all the time. The majority of respondents also reported that they were managing to keep themselves busy and occupied; they were taking the same time as usual in doing things; they were satisfied with the good way they had carried out their tasks; they felt they were playing a useful part in things; they were capable of making decisions about things; they were able to enjoy their normal day-to-day activities more than usual; they were not thinking of themselves as worthless persons; they did not feel that life was entirely hopeless; they felt that life was worth living; and they did not have nerve problems; they still wanted to live. Furthermore they usually expected the best in uncertain times; it was easy for them to relax; they were always optimistic about their future; they enjoyed their friends a lot; it was important for them to keep busy; they always expected things to go their way; they did not get upset too easily; they rarely counted on bad things happening to them; they expected more good things to happen to them than bad. This study showed that most learners in the Vaal Triangle area are healthy and optimistic about their future and that there is a strong relationship between psycho-physical wellness and optimism.
- Education