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Ethics & Human Research

Influence of Dispositional Optimism on
Ethically Salient Research Perspectives:
A Pilot Study

ABSTRACT Research participants should be drawn as fairly as possible from the potential volunteer population. Underlying personality traits are underexplored as factors influencing research decision-making. Dispositional optimism, known to affect coping, physical health, and psychological well-being, has been minimally studied with respect to research-related attitudes. We conducted an exploratory, online survey with 151 individuals (with self-reported mental illness [n = 50], physical illness [n = 51], or neither [n = 50]) recruited via MTurk. We evaluated associations between dispositional optimism (assessed with the Life Orientation Test—Revised) and general research attitudes, perceived protectiveness of five research safeguards, and willingness to participate in research using safeguards. Strongly optimistic respondents expressed more positive research attitudes and perceived four safeguards as more positively influencing willingness to participate. Optimism was positively associated with expressed willingness to participate in clinical research. Our findings add to a limited literature on the influence of individual traits on ethically salient research perspectives.

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