Medicine, Mind and Adolescence 1999, XIV, 1-2

Changes in psychosocial concomitants of Polish
adolescents' life optimism in the 1990s

Ewa Stepien

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Selected research findings concerning the relationships between adolescents’ life optimism and their other self-reported characteristics including relations with parents and peers, school activities, antisocial and risky behaviors, and their intra-personal dispositions (e.g. self-esteem, value of independence) are presented. The main aim of this study was to investigate whether and to what extent the models of the analyzed relationships are similar or different across adolescents in the beginning and at the end of the 1990s.
Data collected in 1992 and 1997 from similar samples of adolescents (boys and girls aged 15-18 who were secondary school pupils) were compared. In both of the studies the “You and Health” questionnaire was used.
The main results showed that:

  1) There were no differences between the average level of adolescents’ life optimism in studies 1       (’92) and 2 (’97), as well as between boys and girls in each study;
  2) In the first study ('92), multiple regression models of psychosocial concomitants of life optimism        for boys and for girls consisted of different variables. Namely, boys' life optimism was related        only to self-efficacy, value of school achievement and "bad-being". For girls, the model contained       variables from each area of their psychosocial functioning (i.e. perceived parental demands and       control, attitudes toward school and school grades, peer support, manifestation of risky and       antisocial behaviors, and frequency of "bad-being" symptoms as for the boys).
  3) Changes in the second study ('97) were observed. For boys three new variables appeared in the       regression model beside self-efficacy: value of independence, expectations of school       achievement and the school grades. For girls, life optimism was related to intensity of antisocial       behaviors and parental demands similar to the previous model five years earlier. The latter       regression model also contained variables such as self-efficacy, number of close friends and       sexual initiation.

The results are discussed in context of socio-cultural changes in the 1990s in Poland and their meaning for developmental processes of adolescence.

Key Words:
Adolescence, Life Optimism.

1. Correspondence to: Ewa Stepien Ph. D., Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Clinical Psychology Department, Al. Sobieskiego 1/9; 02-957 Warsaw, Poland. E-mail:

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