Crushing Hope: Short Term Responses to Tragedy Vary by Hopefulness

24 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2018

See all articles by Jason M. Fletcher

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Abstract

This research note explores the consequences of dispositional optimism and hopefulness when the environment changes. Much literature has documented the importance of a positive outlook in pursuing investments in health and education that pay off in the future. A question that has received less attention is whether a positive outlook creates resilience in the face of setbacks or whether a positive outlook may be a disadvantage in extreme circumstances, especially when there is a large mismatch between expectations and reality. This paper uses the coincidental interview schedule of the Add Health data (N=15,024) around the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 to examine interactions with this environmental shock and previously elicited measures of hopefulness. The results suggest that increases in depressive symptoms following the attack are concentrated among those young adults who initially expressed the most hopefulness in the future as teenagers.

Keywords: evolutionary psychology, hopefulness, mismatch, depressive symptoms, trauma

JEL Classification: D91, I12

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason M., Crushing Hope: Short Term Responses to Tragedy Vary by Hopefulness. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11291. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3117275

Jason M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

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