The effects of optimism on productivity


Jan FeldAndries de Grip (Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market)

Co-operation with A multinational telecommunication firm.

Further information

Optimism, which can be defined as the disposition to expect good things to happen, is related to a number of favorable outcomes in the domain of health and well-being1.
Recently optimism has also come into the focus of economists, who found that optimists work more hours and get promoted faster2,3. However, the causal link between optimism and these outcomes has not yet been established. This is particularly important because the observed correlations might also be explained by reversed causality when being successful makes people more optimistic.

This research project contributes to the optimism literature as well as to innovative HR practices. In particular, we will study the relation between optimism and workers’ effort in the call center of a multinational telecommunication firm.

Results & follow-ups
Report Optimism and Performance in Call Centers.


  1. Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1993), On the Power of Positive Thinking: The Benefits of Being Optimistic, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2(1), 26-30.
  2. Kaniel, R., Massey, C., & Robinson, D. T. (2010), The importance of Being an Optimist: Evidence from Labor Markets, NBER Working Paper No. 16328.
  3. Puri, M., & Robinson, D. T. (2007), Optimism and economic choice. Journal of Financial Economics, 86(1), 71-99.
  4. Peters, M. L., Flink, I. K., Boersma, K., & Linton, S. J. (2010), Manipulating optimism: Can imagining a best possible self be used to increase positive future expectancies?, Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(3), 204-211.