Cultivating Optimism: How to Frame Your Future during a Health Challenge

61 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2017

See all articles by Donnel A. Briley

Donnel A. Briley

University of Sydney

Melanie Rudd

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business

Jennifer Aaker

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

Research shows that optimism can positively impact health, but when and why people feel optimistic when confronting health challenges is less clear. Findings from six studies show that the frames people adopt when thinking about health challenges influence their optimism about overcoming those challenges, and that their culture moderates this effect. In cultures where the independent self is highly accessible, individuals adopting an initiator frame (how will I act, regardless of the situations I encounter?) were more optimistic than those adopting a responder frame (how will I react to the situations I encounter?); the converse occurred for individuals from cultures where the interdependent self is highly accessible. Moreover, mediation and moderation evidence revealed that this interactive effect of culture and frame on optimism was driven by people’s ability to easily imagine the recovery process. These effects held for distinct health challenges (cancer, diabetes, flood-related illness, traumatic injury) and across single-country and cross-country samples, as well as impacted positive health outcomes and decisions ranging from anticipated energy, physical endurance, and willingness to take on more challenging physical therapy to intentions to get vaccinated, stick to a doctor recommended diet, and undertake a physically strenuous vacation.

Keywords: Optimism, Health, Mental Simulation, Framing

Suggested Citation

Briley, Donnel A. and Rudd, Melanie and Aaker, Jennifer Lynn, Cultivating Optimism: How to Frame Your Future during a Health Challenge (June 2017). Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming; Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 17-46. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2985120 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2985120

Donnel A. Briley

University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney NSW 2006, NC
Australia

Melanie Rudd

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-6021
United States

Jennifer Lynn Aaker (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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