victim of acid attacks (Chinoy, 2012). In most cases, she is battered, isolation, virtually
imprisoned and sometimes murdered (Ali, Irma, Gavino, 2008).
There are many theories which provide the roots of gender differences. Although these
theories are developed in Western countries but they describe the cultural aspect of these
differences. For example, Social role theory says that gender differences result from the
contrasting roles of women and men (Eagly, 2000; 2001). In most cultures around the world,
women have less power and status than men have and they control fewer resources (Denmark,
Robinowitz, & Sechzer, 2005). Compared with men, women perform more domestic work,
spend fewer hours in paid employment, receive lower pay and are more thinly represented in the
highest levels of organizations. In Eagly’s view, as women adopted to roles with less power and
less status in society, they showed more cooperative, less dominant profiles than men. Thus the
social hierarchy and division of labor are important causes of gender differences in power,
assertiveness and nature (Betz, 2006; Eagly & Diekman, 2003).
Social cognitive theory says that the children’s gender development occurs through
observing and imitating what other people say and do and through being rewarded and punished
for gender appropriate and gender in-appropriate behavior (Bussy & Bundra, 1999). From birth
onward, gender roles are rewarded. Culture, school, media and other family members also
provide gender role models (Smith, 2007). Parents by action and by example, influence their
children’s gender development (Bronstein, 2006). Cultures around the world tend to give them
differing roles. Mothers are more consistently given responsibilities for nurturance and physical
care. Fathers are more likely to engage in playful interaction. Fathers seem to play an especially
important part in gender role development. They are more likely than mothers to act differently
towards sons and daughters (Leaper, 2002).
velopment theory of gender states that Children’s gender typing occurs after
children think of themselves as boys and girls. Gender schema theory states that gender typing
occurs when children are ready to encode and organize information along the lines of what is
considered appropriate for females and males in their society (Martin & Dinella, 2001). Children
are motivated to act in ways that conform to these gender schemas. Thus, gender schemas fuel
gender typing (Hyde, 2007).
In a wide-ranging study of college students in 30 countries males were widely believed to
be dominant, independent, aggressive, achievement oriented and enduring, while females were
widely believed to be nurturant, affiliative, less esteemed and more helpful in the time of
distress (William & Best, 1982). In another study women and men who lived in more highly
developed countries perceived themselves as more similar than women and men who lived in
less developed countries (William &Best, 1989). In this study the women were more likely to
perceive similarity between the sexes than the men were. And the sexes were perceived more
similarity in the Christian than in the Muslim societies.
Several theories have been proposed to explain the phenomenon of gender differences.
s ecological framework (1986) which has been used by other authors in relation
to child abuse (Dasgupta,2001 & Edleson, 2000 ), neglect ( Belsky, J. 1980 ) and domestic
violence (Heise, 1998
Carlson, 1984) suggests that behavior is shaped through interaction
between individual human beings and their social environment. Development of male and female
personalities is a result of interaction at five levels of social organization (Dasgupta,
2001;Edleson, 2000) including individual, microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and
macrosystem levels. The individual level caters the biological and personal factors, which
influence individual behavior. In this level biological differences cause the society to
discriminate against women. The microsystem levels encompass the family and work-place
situations. In this research more attention is given to this level where females face more
discrimination. The mesosystem level involves the interaction between a person's microsystems.
The exosystem level relates to the structures and systems of the society where the person lives.
Finally, the macorosystem level considers the role of culture and larger background in gender
development (Dasgupta, 2001).
According to Feminist theory woman abuse is one of the outcomes of a structure that
allows prostitution and other sexist restrictions to keep women in servile (obedient) positions.
The feminist view also holds that until women are seen as other than obedient, compliant
victims, little will change. It is a deeply embedded social problem that has to be addressed by
social change (Gondolf & Fisher 1988). In Pakistan, females are getting more sensitive about
their status in the society. They are at war either explicitly or implicitly. This burdens the females
with an additional stress of insecurity. They are struggling hard to get emancipation in the
Present study will empirically test the gender differences regarding positivity, coping
with daily stressors and health outcomes in a sample of Pakistani university teachers. It will help
policy makers to design strategies to raise the status of females by providing them more facilities
at home, work place and in society as well as more representation in politics, jobs, administrative
posts and decision making matters to reduce the stressors of females.
The concepts of positive thinking empirically tested in different cultures can be replicated
in Pakistan making it culturally sensitive. Pakistani researchers can develop their own
psychologies relevant with their religion, cultural practices and gender roles. These can be the
stepping stones in the path of self discovery and might facilitate an individual to realize and
utilize one’s own potential and make the best out of it. They might provide a different
perspective towards life and build up esteem and courage in an individual to face the dire
circumstances of our country and handle worse consequences. They might help in the
development of strong exhilarated minds and staunch individuals who pursue their ambitions and
gathers motivation from their inner self.
After reflecting upon the circumstances of Pakistan the researcher of the present study
incorporated Western concepts of positive psychology in its own cultures after aligning it with
Pakistani cultural norms. Researcher operationalized positive thinking, as optimism, for the
present study. The researcher will explore whether optimism lessens the stressors and makes
coping strategies effective for both males and females. The challenge is great and extensive but it
will enable the people to identify this strength and use it to face the daily stressors and prepare
themselves for future challenges of terrorism, poverty, corruption and injustice of society which
are threats on the physical and psychological health of Pakistanis.
1.8 Plan of the study
Pakistani people, like other citizens of underdeveloped countries, are following the
western culture where life is fast-paced due to the advancement in technology. In Pakistan, both
males and females are under a lot of pressure due to the environmental, economic and political
stressors. Females are more vulnerable to health problems in stressful circumstances. It has been
repeatedly shown in literature that females tend to report higher level of distress, unipolar
depression and other forms of negative affect than the males (Fujita, Diener, Sandvik, 1991).
The need of the hour is that psychologists not only conduct extensive research in the area
of positive psychology but also test Western theories of positive psychology in our own culture.
Further more they should try to search new ways and methods of increasing optimism and
resilience to deal with the turmoil of the nation. Current study is an effort to meet this challenge.
This study will investigate the impact of positive thinking on stress appraisal, coping and health
in a sample of university teachers. It will also explore gender differences in university teachers
regarding all the study variables.
Since the establishment of Pakistan, education has never been considered a priority.
Recently, education has received special attention by public and private sectors. New policies,
strategies and goals have been set. Stakes are high and so are the stressors of the teachers. They
have to pace up to achieve the international standards of education.They are under enormous
stress due to the Higher Education Commission’s requirements regarding
research work and publication. Workplace stressors such as lack of empowerment at workplace,
ative behavior and violence against the teachers have heightened their
Part I of the current study will identify the stressors of university teachers. Researcher
will develop an indigenous daily stressor scale for university teachers. In this regard, stressors
affecting their lives will be collected qualitatively. Based on that data a daily stressor scale will
be developed for university teachers on a countrywide sample.
In part II the impact of positive thinking will be investigated on daily stressors, coping
strategies and health. This study will also find out gender differences in the sample regarding
Fredrickson’s model of positive emotions will be
used in the study which
assumes that positive thinking changes the appraisal of stressor by making it less threatening
and leads to effective and efficient coping and better health outcomes. The main study will be
conducted in a sample of a large public university.
1.9 Independent Variable
Positive thinking is the independent variable in this study. There are many
indicators of positive thinking and optimism is one of them. Many researchers have found
optimism as conceptually related with positive thinking (Carver & Scheier, 2002a, b). Other
researchers (Wilkinson & Kitzinger 2000), studying cancer patients, found out definitional
ambiguity about positive thinking. Mostly patients understood it as a conversational idiom,
characterized by vagueness and generality and a socially normative moral requirement. To
avoid this ambiguity, positive thinking has been expressed as optimism for the present study
and will be measured through Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R) (Scheier, Carver&
1.10 Dependent Variables
Daily stressors, coping techniques and health of the participants will be the dependant
variables in this study. Researcher will develop an indigenous daily stressor scale by
investigating the stressors of university teachers through in-depth interviews and focus groups
discussions. Coping will include ways of managing stress. The impact of positive thinking will
be investigated on daily stressors, coping strategies and health in a sample of public university
1.11 Statement of the problem
It is said that the stress varies with individual characteristics. Positive thinkers appraise
daily stressors less threatening, use functional coping strategies and remain healthy while
negative thinkers perceive the adverse circumstances as threatening, use dysfunctional coping
strategies and remain unhealthy. The study intends to identify the above mentioned relationship
in a sample of university teachers.
1.12 Justification and Likely Benefits
Pakistani people are living under stressful circumstances. Political instability, corruption,
injustice, terrorism, overpopulation, unemployment and environmental pollution have elevated
the stressors of the people. Natural calamities such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes have
targeted our nation. Men and women both face occupational, cultural, social and environmental
stressors however females encounter additional stressors related to health care, domestic
violence, isolation, lack of authority and economic independence. Women recently entering in
different fields as a working force such as police, banking, marketing, industry or any other
profession may have some privileges but they encounter work-home conflicts. Mostly they
become overburdened and face difficulties managing household and interpersonal relationships.
Professional females have to survive in a competitive and somewhat oppressive environment. It
leads them towards negativity and depression. They adapt dysfunctional coping strategies to
deal with daily stressors which lead to different psychological and physical health problems.
For quite sometime, many studies have reported psychological distress among university
teachers due to different reasons. Being a university teacher was traditionally regarded as a
highly desirable occupation with low level of stress (Fisher, 1994). Major highlights of the
profession were flexible working hours, less work load and research in the desired field. They
enjoyed the job security that came with tenure and were able to travel for work related studies
and conferences sponsored by the institutions. However, over the past one or two decades many
of the benefits have been diminished hugely leaving the university teachers with low
productivity and high stress (Fisher, 1994). Comparative salaries for academics have fallen and
work load has increased.
The motto “publish or
perish” has made the university teachers
desperate and distressed.
Fisher (1994) reported that the university teachers scored higher in tension, distress and
obsession than the general population. Professional burnout is another major cause of
manifestation of distress. Some particular predictors of burnouts have been role conflict, role
ambiguity and lack of authority (Pretorius, 1994; Leung, Siu, & Spector, 2000).
The general conclusion to be drawn from these studies is that the psychological distress
related to the university teachers is the cause of concern and largely the outcomes of elevated
work load intermixed with personality factors in university teachers. Although, some studies
have tried to explore the occupational stress in Pakistan, the impact of positive thinking on the
appraisal of stress, coping and health in Pakistani culture has not been investigated throughly.
Consequently, there is a need for a more in-depth examination of the role of stressors in
psychological problems experienced by university professors.
Current study is an endeavor to investigate the effect of optimism on the appraisal of
daily stressors in Pakistani culture. The researcher will explore this relationship in a sample of
university teachers. Present research will find out the sources of stress and propose strategies to
reduce the stressors of faculty members to enhance the quality education and productivity in
research by identifying the expertise of their faculty. Present study is also designed to put
different theories of positive emotions and stress appraisal, with regard to gender differences, to
test in a Pakistani culture.
This study will help administration, teachers, parents and counselors to inculcate positive
thinking in their employees, students, children and clients respectively, so that they could tackle
the daily stressors effectively. It will promote and enhance mental and physical health of the
citizens of Pakistan. It will urge teachers to employ problem solving approach and creativity. It
will lead psychologists to prepare interventions for positive thinking. This study will also help
government and private universities to initiate steps to reduce the stressors of faculty members so
that they could enhance the potential of their students.
1.13 Objectives of the study
The objectives of the study are to:
Assess positive thinking in males and females of Pakistan.
Investigate the relationship of positive thinking with stress, coping and health.
Identify the daily stressors of male and female university teachers countrywide.
Explore the coping strategies employed by university teachers while dealing with daily
Investigate the health status of positive thinkers.
valuate the Frederickson’s model of positive thinking and effective coping in
with gender differences in a sample of university teachers.
Provide insight to administration, educators, counselors, psychotherapists, professionals
and parents about the power of positive thinking to deal with the stressors of their
employees, students, clients and children respectively.
Make faculty aware of their coping repertoire and help them modify their behavior
according to the changing circumstances.
1.14 Hypothesis of the study:
Following hypothesis will be examined in the present study:
There is a significant negative relationship between optimism and daily stressors.
There is a significant relationship between daily stressors and general health.
Optimism is significantly related to general health.
There is a positive relationship between positive thinking and the implementation of
effective coping strategies for daily stressors.
There is a negative relationship between positive thinking and the use of avoidant
coping strategies for daily stressors.
There are gender differences in positive thinking.
Females experience more daily stressors than males.
There are gender differences in the implementation of coping strategies for daily
Problem focused coping will predict psychological wellbeing in males and females.
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