Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

June Gorski

Committee Members

Gregory Petty, Susan Smith, Randall Pierce


The purpose of this study was to examine pessimistic and optimistic personality traits and an adults’ tobacco smoking status.

The study population consisted of three Tennessee worksites that gave written permission for data collection. The worksites were comprised of both blue and white collar employees. A convenience sampling technique was used to collect the data. The study sample consisted of 152 employed adults. The sample included adult smokers, nonsmokers and former smokers. Data was collected using a valid and reliable instrument called “Optimism/Pessimism Instrument” (Dember, Martin, Hummer, Howe and Melton, 1989), and a data sheet which included questions about age, gender, education, smoking status, and tobacco usage. A MANOVA, ANOVA and Spearman correlation were implemented to analyze the data.

The findings of this study revealed that there is a significant difference between pessimistic and optimistic personality traits, and smokers and nonsmokers. Alternate hypothesis 1 was accepted, which concluded that smokers are significantly more pessimistic in their personality than nonsmokers. Alternate hypothesis #2 was accepted, nonsmokers are significantly more optimistic in their personality than smokers. The data analysis also reported a significant difference between smokers and former smokers. Former smokers were significantly more optimistic in their personality than smokers. There was no significant difference between nonsmokers and former smokers.

These findings have implications for health educators and clinicians who are primarily responsible for developing smoking cessation and tobacco prevention programs in worksite settings. By examining these personality traits, insights and strategies may be gained for further development of clinical and community-based interventions to help tobacco users quit smoking.

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