Relationship of Optimism/Pessimism, Vulnerability to Stress and Academic Achievement of College Students

Ms. Shazia Malik and Dr. Ghazala Rehman *


The present research is about the incredible power of mind on body. The aim of the study was to find out the effect of an individual’s thinking style such as optimism/pessimism on his/her vulnerability to physical and psychological stress. The study also explored the relationship of academic achievement with the variables of the study.

It was hypothesized that:

  1. There exist relationship between optimism / pessimism and vulnerability to stress.

  2. Optimism is inversely correlated with vulnerability to stress.

  3. Girls are more optimistic as compared to boys.

  4. Boys are more vulnerable to stress compared to girls.

  5. High achievers are more optimists compared to low achievers.

  6. High achievers are less vulnerable to stress.

  7. Students belonging to lower socio-economic status (SES) will be more prone to stress compared to the students of high SES.

  8. Students belonging to upper SES will be more optimistic compared to the students of low SES.

For the present research, the sample of 100 students both boys and girls acted as subjects. 50 girls and 50 boys from colleges of Rawalpindi city, were selected as the unit of the study. All the subjects were full time enrolled students of their colleges. And they all were students of F.Sc second year ranging in ages from 17 to 19.

Three instruments had been used for the study. Life Orientation Test (LOT) was used for the measurement of optimism/pessimism traits of personality, Stress Vulnerability Scale (SVS) was used for the assessment of stress vulnerability. In order to assess the Academic Achievement level of students, their marks in last attended examination were obtained. The researcher made the score range to distribute the group in high, medium and low on the basis of their marks. The demographic information of the subjects, i.e., his/her name, age, sex, father’s monthly income, grade and institution was collected with the help of a personal information sheet which was attached to the questionnaires.

The data obtained from the research was compiled. The comparison of the scores was also made in terms of Mean, Standard Deviation, ANOVA and t-test. The analysis was also done to see the internal consistency using Reliability of the scales through item-total Correlation and Alpha Reliability Coefficient.

Results revealed that the entire hypotheses which were formulated for the present research had been confirmed. Hypotheses numbers 3 and 4 were partially confirmed because both boys and girls are equally vulnerable to stress as well as equally pessimists.

The general trend of the present study, however, indicates that optimistically oriented people are less susceptible to stress or stressors and they are academically high achievers. Whereas, pessimistic people are more prone to excessive worries and tensions. Thus, this is not what happens to a person but how he perceives the situation that makes all the difference. Positivity or optimism not only makes a person less vulnerable to stress but it also benefits health of a person as a whole.

A complete report of the research is available from the author:

Shazia Malik, MSc.

Behavioral Sciences (BHS)

Fatima Jinnah Womens University

Rawalpindi, Pakistan


Author Information:
Ms. Shazia Malik, is a student of Behavioral Sciences, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi. Pakistan. She has conducted this research as a part of Master of Science Thesis research work supervised by the second author. Dr. Ghazala Rehman, is Associate Professor, at National Institute of Psychology, Qauid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Posted with permission.