We are often told to look at life with optimism! However, positive thinking may not be familiar to human nature …
Is the glass always half full or empty for you?
Experts question past research that people have an innate feeling that “everything will be fine.” Previous findings about optimism are thought to contribute to financial crises, people’s inability to take care of their health, or inaction due to climate change.
For decades, scientists have believed that people have “irrational optimism,” that is, we often underestimate the chances of negative experiences, while overestimating positive events.
However, a new study by researchers from the University of Bath, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of London demonstrates flaws in the work that supports the existence of irrational optimism. According to the authors, earlier studies led to false results.
In such works, the “update method” is usually used. It allows participants to rate their chances of experiencing a life event, and then rethink their assessment after statistics are provided. This is usually done with negative life events such as contracting an illness or divorce. However, bad news elicits a strong emotional response.
In a new study, researchers tested the same method, but removed the emotional element using neutral examples. Participants were asked to assess the likelihood of a passing car’s color.
Despite changing examples and removing emotional elements, the same optimistic picture was observed, which led researchers to challenge the validity of the methods. Lead researcher Jason Burton explains: “Our experiments show that the method commonly used to prove optimism is flawed. It leads to “optimistic” beliefs where optimism is impossible. This does not mean that optimism cannot exist in the real world at all, but new and improved methods of assessing it are needed. ”
Study co-author Punit Shah said: “Of course, in certain situations there is reason for optimism, but that does not mean that people are generally optimistic.”