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Optimism May Help Female Undergrads With Their Grades

But positive thinking seems to backfire for male students, study says

THURSDAY, Dec. 1, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Optimism is associated with higher grades for female students, but lower marks for males, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel assessed the attitudes and grades of 174 business undergraduates (28 percent male, 72 percent female) aged 20 to 28.

The investigators found that female students who were more optimistic had higher grades than those who were less optimistic. However, high levels of optimism in male students tended to lead to overconfidence and less studying, resulting in lower grades, the findings indicated.

The study was presented earlier this year at the International Conference on Positive Psychology in Philadelphia.

"Optimism in male students can lead to overconfidence or an attitude of 'things will work out for the best,'" Tamar Icekson, a doctoral student in the Faculty of Business and Management, said in a university news release. "So instead of studying enough for a test, they go out the night before."

"For female students, optimism alone was beneficial because they're naturally more conscientious than their male counterparts," Icekson said. "Women have lower self-esteem and so if they are not sure things will work out, they study for the test."

While the study uncovered an association between attitude and grades, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains the link between health and academics.

SOURCE: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, news release, November 2011
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