Original Research

Psychometric description of the Life Orientation Test-Revised in a South African sample: A pilot study

Charles H. van Wijk
African Journal of Psychological Assessment | Vol 4 | a51 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajopa.v4i0.51 | © 2022 Charles H. van Wijk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 January 2021 | Published: 25 February 2022

About the author(s)

Charles H. van Wijk, Institute for Maritime Medicine, Simon’s Town, South Africa; and, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


The relevance of dispositional optimism – as measured by the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R) – in health psychology has been convincingly demonstrated in numerous cross-national studies; however, empirical evidence of its psychometric quality and normative parameters in the South African context are lacking. Firstly, this pilot study aimed to replicate previous international psychometric and normative data analyses, and secondly, to extend the investigation into associations with clinical measures of mental health and associated measures of general psychological well-being and resilience in a South African sample. A sample of 755 adults from South African workplaces (42% women, aged 19–62 years) completed the LOT-R and a selection of self-rated measures of clinical mental health and general psychological well-being and resilience. Life Orientation Test-Revised total mean scores were comparable with international samples, with normative reference data supplied to interpret individual scores. Confirmatory factor analysis suggested a bi-dimensional model as best fit, and two independent factors were identified, namely, optimism and pessimism. Significant correlations with measures of psychological health and well-being were observed. Mental health constructs were better characterised by the presence of pessimism than the absence of optimism. No significant age or gender effects were observed but the role of language requires further clarification. This study provided a psychometric description of the LOT-R in a South African sample, including support for both the bi-dimensionality of the LOT-R in this context and its construct validity. The study further provided preliminary normative data for a local sample against which individual scores can be interpreted.


health psychology; normative data; optimism; pessimism; psychological well-being


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