Publication Details

Smith, P. A., Caputi, P. & Crittenden, N. (2013). Measuring optimism in organizations: development of a workplace explanatory style questionnaire. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14 (2), 415-432.


Some researchers measure optimism by analysing explanations for hypotheti- cal scenarios in explanatory style questionnaires. The most commonly used instrument, the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ), has been shown to predict success in business, education and sport. However, these predictions were achieved by using composite scores of subscales. Our analysis of 15 measures revealed the ASQ and many other explanatory style questionnaires have low internal consistency. Furthermore, the majority of these measures use situations that have poor face validity for corporate applications, while some work-specific scenarios are only relevant to narrow domains such as selling insurance. To fulfil the need for a work-related explanatory style measure that could assess levels of optimism in any organizational setting, we developed the Workplace Explanations Survey (WES). This 5-factor measure was tested on a sample of 341 individuals working in a range of organizations and it has good internal consistency. We anticipate the WES will stimulate research into workplace optimism and provide clearer insights for optimism training, thus boosting both individual and organizational success.



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