Optimism is a research-based measure from the Tell Them From Me surveys. It is a source of evidence linked to What works best and the School Excellence Framework.

What is it?

Optimism is characterised by hopefulness and confidence about the future, a tendency to take a favourable view of things, and an explanatory style marked by evaluating negative events as temporary, external and specific to situation. Optimism is closely connected to student happiness and academic self-concept. Combined, these three measures provide information about students’ self-perceptions of worth and positive emotions.

The Tell Them From Me surveys ask students about how they feel about certain things in their lives. The results are reported as the percentage of students with high, medium or low levels of optimism.

Why is it important?

Optimism has been related to greater satisfaction with life, more effective coping strategies, fewer symptoms of depression and psychological distress, better physical health, longer life, lower rates of cardiovascular disease, and better social relationships. Optimism is always a component of a self-concept. People with a positive self-concept achieve more, are healthier, happier, and get more out of life.

School improvement links

School Excellence Framework element What works best theme
Wellbeing Wellbeing

Evidence base

Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542-575.

Kern, M. L., Benson, L., Steinberg, E. A., & Steinberg, L. (2016). The EPOCH measure of adolescent well-being. Psychological Assessment, 28(5), 586-597.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Free Press.

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5-14.

Image: This explainer has been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar.

Explainers of the Tell Them From Me measures have been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar. The Tell Them From Me measures are provided by, and remain the intellectual property of, The Learning Bar. The explainers can also be found online within the Tell Them From Me portal. Tell Them From Me and TTFM are trademarks of The Learning Bar.


  • Student engagement and wellbeing
  • Tell Them From Me

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
Return to top of page Back to top