Contemporary theories of hope and optimism provide two explanations for how positive expectancies can shape human behavior and promote well-being. Scheier and Carver's theory of optimism focuses on generalized expectations of positive outcomes whereas Snyder's hope theory focuses on how evaluations of personal agency can facilitate goal attainment. Although the theoretical distinctions between these constructs have previously been articulated few studies have jointly examined the two constructs in order to determine unique effects and some have questioned whether the constructs are truly distinct. This study therefore examines whether hope and optimism (1) are distinct latent constructs (2) have unique effects on components of flourishing mental health and (3) differentially relate to the components of flourishing mental health. Confirmatory factor analysis results and a bootstrapped structural equation model indicate that hope and optimism are distinct latent constructs that each uniquely predict a moderate proportion of variance of the components of well-being.
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