Optimism is a positive attitude about the future. In the field of psychology, optimism is viewed as a general way of thinking that can be beneficial to, for example, health outcomes. The Scheier and Carver paper from 1992 (see references) is a really good read about this topic.

The Life Orientation Test quantifies optimism, and the revised version (LOT-R) demonstrated here is an improved version of the original with 10 likert-style items questions. Unusual in this scale is that only 6 items are analyzed, the rest are filler items (Scheier & Carver, 1994, p.1073).

The 1994 paper reports normative data (Table 10, Scheier & Carver, 1994):

Group Average on the LOT-R



Female students


Male students


Bypass patients


Female bypass patients


Male bypass patients


Run the demo

It seems that the LOT-R can be used for research, but you need to acknowledge the authors and their research paper when writing about it (Scheier & Carver, 1992, 1994).


This is a simple scale question with some reverse code items. Note that not all items in the scale are used because some are fillers. That is why the set item only sums the 6 of the items. These are taken from the original 1994 paper (Table 6).

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
scale: agree
- {score=0} strongly disagree
- {score=1} disagree
- {score=2} neutral
- {score=3} agree
- {score=4} strongly agree

l: lotr
t: scale agree
o: width 50%
q: Below is a list of statements.<br>
For each statement, indicate how much you agree with it.<br>
There are no right or wrong answers.<br>
Please be as accurate and honest as you can throughout.<br>
Try not to let your answer to one statement influence your answers to
other statements.<br>
- In uncertain times, I usually expect the best.
- It's easy for me to relax.
- {reverse} If something can go wrong for me, it will.
- I'm always optimistic about my future.
- I enjoy my friends a lot.
- It's important for me to keep busy.
- {reverse} I hardly ever expect things to go my way.
- I don't get upset too easily.
- {reverse} I rarely count on good things happening to me.
- Overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad.

l: lotr_score
t: set
- sum $lotr.1 $lotr.3 $lotr.4 $lotr.7 $lotr.9 $lotr.10

l: feedback
t: info
q: Your optimism score is {$lotr_score}.<br>
The average score in the population is around 14 to 15 points.<br>


  • Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1992). Effects of optimism on psychological and physical well-being: Theoretical overview and empirical update. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16, 201-228.

  • Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem) - A revaluation of the life orientation test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1063-1078.