Each provides a protective buffer against what Shakespeare called “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”.Evidence for this connection between motivation and optimism or pessimism was found in a new study by Abigail Hazlett and colleagues (Hazlett et al., 2011), published in .
Imagine you divided everyone in the world into two psychological groups.
You put all the optimists on one side and all the pessimists on the other (let’s leave the realists aside for now).
Can’t they see what a nasty, cruel and accident-prone world we live in? Over the years psychologists have examined many aspects of pessimism and optimism.
They’ve wondered whether there are more optimists or pessimists.
And they’ve tried to find out which approach is ‘better’.
Naturally both camps are fascinated to see which way this one goes. There are some advantages to optimism like it seems to make people feel better about life.So, in their third study they had participants trying to solve anagrams. While doing the anagrams half were encouraged to think optimistic thoughts and half pessimistic thoughts.The researchers also measured participants’ natural tendencies towards either optimism or pessimism.In two initial studies optimists were found to have a ‘promotion focus’.In other words they preferred to think about how they could advance and grow.By thinking about what might go wrong it helps protect us against when things do go wrong.