To evaluate the prospective relation between dispositional traits of optimism and pessimism and in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment failure among women seeking medical intervention for infertility.
Among 198 women (aged 24–45 years, mean [standard deviation] = 35.1 [4.1] years; white, 77%), the outcome of each participant’s first IVF treatment cycle was examined. Treatment outcome was classified as being successful (versus failed) if the woman either delivered a baby or was pregnant because of the cycle by the end of the 18-month study period. At baseline, optimism and pessimism were measured as a single bipolar dimension and as separate unipolar dimensions according to the Life Orientation Test total score and the optimism and pessimism subscale scores, respectively.
Optimism/pessimism, measured as a single bipolar dimension, predicted IVF treatment failure initially (B = −0.09, p = .02, odds ratio [OR] = 0.917, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.851–0.988), but this association attenuated after statistical control for trait negative affect (B = −0.06, p = .13, OR = 0.938, 95% CI = 0.863–1.020). When examined as separate unipolar dimensions, pessimism (B = 0.14, p = .04, OR = 1.146, 95% CI = 1.008–1.303), not optimism (B = −0.09, p = .12, OR = 0.912, 95% CI = 0.813–1.023), predicted IVF treatment failure independently of risk factors for poor IVF treatment response and trait negative affect.
Being pessimistic may be a risk factor for IVF treatment failure. Future research should attempt to delineate the biological and behavioral mechanisms by which pessimism may negatively affect treatment outcomes.