What is the Life orientation test?

In this article we will discuss what the Life orientation test is. 

We will also closely discuss the development of the test, it’s uses, how it is administered, and the reliability of the test. 

What is the Life orientation test?

The life orientation test or LOT in short is a standard psychological assessment that assesses the level of dispositional optimism- the belief that the future holds positive experiences as opposed to negative experiences- in individuals.

This test has been devised to assess the level of optimism in individuals so as to bring about insight and understanding about the possible interventions that can be brought about in therapy by a mental health professional to help the individual solve problems and issues that the client brings into the sessions. 

Positive psychologists have developed this test because of their belief that itims is very important when it comes to well-being. 

Researchers in the field of positive psychology believe that an attitude of optimism or pessimism influences and affects an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and overall quality of life. 

You can access the revised version of the life orientation test here.

What is life orientation?

In the general sense life orientation refers to life skills that includes the holistic development of individuals and is generally understood as an educational requirement, first introduced in South Africa to help students learn basic life skills. 

Life orientation involves various skills, knowledge and values that equipes individuals to live successful and meaningful lives by enabling their personal, social, intellectual, emotional and physical growth.

In psychology, life orientation has to do with optimism- the tendency of individuals to have a positive and hopeful outlook which inturn affects their attitudes and their ability to live successful and meaningful lives. 

So, in effect, life orientation refers to one’s orientation and outlook on life- be it optimistic or pessimistic when it comes to one’s values, future outlook, and attitudes. 

How was the Life orientation test developed?

The Life Orientation Test (LOT) was developed by Michael Scheier and Charles Carver in 1985 and they published the test in the Health Psychology journal.

The two researchers developed this particular test based on their observation that people tend to have two outlooks with regards to their lives.

People either have a positive outlook with the assumptions that good things will happen whereas others have a negative or pessimistic outlook with negative attitudes about their lives and future. 

These researchers assumed that it is positive attitudes and optimistic outlooks that serves individuals better and allows them to build successful and meaningful lives as it led to the positive regulation of behaviours- particular behaviours related to health. 

Scheier and Carver soon realised that there is a lack of research that explores the relationship between optimism and health related behaviours, and as a way to bridge this gap they developed this instrument to understand  whether optimsm does have a role in overall health.

Life orientation test version one

The first version of the scale (the LOT) comprised twelve items that explored areas related to one’s outlook on life, the future and their present, 

These items explore their attitudes, their values, and to some extent the individual belief related to their locus of control. 

This first version of the LOT was criticised because of the similarities of the traits assessed that these two researchers considered optimism with that of traits associated with neuroticism.

So they developed the revised version of the scale. 

Life orientation Scale version two

This version of the scale was developed after the researchers,Scheier, Carver, and Bridges (1994), removed two items in the twelve-item LOT that did not align with the other items conceptually. 

Thus, the ten item assessment called the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R) was published. 

This revised scale is now commonly used to measure dispositional optimism for both practice by various therapists and clinical psychologists as well as for research. 

What are the uses of the Life orientation test?

The life orientation test (LOT) is one of the most commonly used scales to measure dispositional optimism in individuals for both research purposes as well as clinical proactiveness. 

For research, the scale is used to assess the optimist of particulars for a broad range of studies in the field of poverty, adolescents and adults age groups related to mental disorders like anxiety and depression, as well as populations who have been affected with traumatic events. 

In the field of clinical practice, the scale is also found to be useful for clinical practitioners who can use the scale to assess clients and develop intervention strategies. 

The scores on the test provide valuable insight into the attitudes of the clients and also highlight areas of exploration and growth. 

How is the Life orientation test administered and assessed?

This test can be administered to all individuals irrespective of their demography and is used to assess their perspectives of the future or their outlook about their future. 

The test, revised version, consists of both direct and reversed score items as well as filler items- to disguise the true purpose of the scale from respondents, helping to ensure the validity of the responses- and all items are scored on a 5-point scale as the following:

4 = I agree a lot

3 = I agree a little

2 = I neither agree nor disagree

1 = I disagree a little

0 = I disagree a lot

The items of the test include the following:

  • In uncertain times, I usually expect the best.
  • It’s easy for me to relax.
  • 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.
  • I hardly ever expect things to go my way.
  • I don’t get upset too easily.
  • I rarely count on good things happening to me.
  • Overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad (Scheier, Carver, and Bridges, 1994)

When it comes to scoring the responses, the direct items are scored as it is while the revered items are scored with its opposite value on the scale , and the filler items are not scored. The scores are then added to attain the total score of the participant. 

The scores of the test are as follows:

  • 0-13 indicates Low Optimism (High Pessimism)
  • 14-18 indicates Moderate Optimism
  • 19-24indicates High Optimism (Low Pessimism) (Scheier, Carver, and Bridges, 1994)

Is the life orientation test reliable and valid?

When the researchers assessed their original tests, Life orientation test version one, for internal consistency and reliability for test and retest using Cronbach’s alpha (.76)  for their paper published in 1985, Scheier and Carver found the test to have an acceptable level of internal consistency.

Along with this, the scale was also administered to a separate sample after it’s development to assess it’s test-retest validity and the findings of this test after four weeks with the same group found that the scale was stable across time- meaning that it was a reliable form of assessment. 

When it comes to assessing the validity of the test, the two researchers tested whether the test correlated with other related scales while also assessing that the test was distinct enough or unique enough from other tests. 

Their correlational test on validity found that the scale and positive correlation ship with tests that assessed internal locus of control and self-esteem which are two concepts related to the development of optimist world views and attitudes. 

When they assessed the discriminant validity- that this test was unique to some extent- the results found that the concepts of the scale were sufficiently distinct and that each item on the scale relied on their own factor which was enough evidence to prove that the scale was distinct and unique in its own right. 

When it came to assessing the validity of the test for what it is actually supposed to assess- health, the researchers Scheier and Carver explored the relationship between the test and the reported physical symptoms of a sample population of students in the final weeks of their semester- a time of stress. 

They proposed the hypothesis that those who would score high in this test- higher levels of dispositional optimism- would be in better health conditions because of their higher ability to cope as opposed to those who scored low.  (Scheier and Carver, 1985)

As a result of their test for validity, the results were inline with their hypothesis and the results showed a negative correlation between higher scores on the test with physical symptoms of ill health thus, providing evidence of the LOT-R’s predictive validity.

Conclusion

In this article we have discussed what the Life orientation test is. 

We have also closely discussed the development of the test, it’s uses, how it is administered, and the reliability of the test. 

FAQ related to the Life orientation test

What does the optimism test measure?

Optimism tests tend to measure the overall levels of optimism and pessimism by evaluating attitudes, values, and outlook on the future.

Why was the life Orientation Test-Revised?

This first version of the LOT was criticised because of the similarities of the traits assessed that these two researchers considered optimism with that of traits associated with neuroticism.

So Scheier and Carver developed the revised version of the scale. 

How is dispositional optimism measured?

Disposition optimism is measured with the use of assessment tools such as the life orientation test.

The test, revised version, consists of both direct and reversed score items as well as filler items- to disguise the true purpose of the scale from respondents, helping to ensure the validity of the responses- and all items are scored on a 5-point scale.

When it comes to scoring the responses, the direct items are scored as it is while the revered items are scored with its opposite value on the scale , and the filler items are not scored. The scores are then added to attain the total score of the participant. 

Why do we need life orientation?

In psychology, life orientation has to do with optimism- the tendency of individuals to have a positive and hopeful outlook which inturn affects their attitudes and their ability to live successful and meaningful lives. 

So, in effect, life orientation refers to one’s orientation and outlook on life- be it optimistic or pessimistic when it comes to one’s values, future outlook, and attitudes which inturn impacts quality of life and an individual’s development- psychological, physical, social, intellectual development. 

How do I know if I am an optimist or pessimist?

Optimists are individuals who are future oriented with a positive outlook towards the future. They tend to think that there are more positive experiences when it comes to their future outlook. 

Whereas a pessimistic individual believes that there are more negative events that might happen when it comes to their future outlook. They expect  things to turn out worse than they really are

References

Celestine.N. What is the Life Orientation Test and How To Use It? (LOT-R). Positive Psychology. Retrieved on 26th january 2022. https://positivepsychology.com/life-orientation-test-revised/

Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): A re-evaluation of the Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1063-1078.

Life Orientation – What’s the Point? Fundconnect. February 7, 2018. Retrieved on 26th January 2022. https://fundiconnect.co.za/life-orientation-whats-point/

Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1985). Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies. Health Psychology, 4(3), 219-247.

Please give us feedback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.