1. Pessimism About the Future May Lead to Longer, Healthier Life, Research Finds

    American Psychological Association
    February 27, 2013

    Older people who have low expectations for a satisfying future may be more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who see brighter days ahead, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

    "Our findings revealed that being overly optimistic in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death within the following decade," said lead author Frieder R. Lang, PhD, of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. "Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions.” The study was published online in the journal Psychology and Aging®.

    (…)

    Because a darker outlook on the future is often more realistic, older adults’ predictions of their future satisfaction may be more accurate, according to the study. In contrast, the youngest group had the sunniest outlook while the middle-aged adults made the most accurate predictions, but became more pessimistic over time.

    "Unexpectedly, we also found that stable and good health and income were associated with expecting a greater decline compared with those in poor health or with low incomes," Lang said. "Moreover, we found that higher income was related to a greater risk of disability."

    (…)

    The findings do not contradict theories that unrealistic optimism about the future can sometimes help people feel better when they are facing inevitable negative outcomes, such as terminal disease, according to the authors. “We argue, though, that the outcomes of optimistic, accurate or pessimistic forecasts may depend on age and available resources,” Lang said. “These findings shed new light on how our perspectives can either help or hinder us in taking actions that can help improve our chances of a long healthy life.”

    Read about the study

  2. Self-serving bias

    “We don’t see things as they are,” says a proverb. “We see things as we are.”

    Dawes (1990) proposes that this false consensus may occur because we generalize from a limited sample, which prominently includes ourselves. Lacking other information, why not “project” ourselves; why not impute our own knowledge to others and use our responses as a clue to their likely responses?

    Most people are in the majority; so when people assume they are in the majority they are usually right.

    Also, we’re more likely to spend time with people who share our attitudes and behaviors and, consequently, to judge the world from the people we know.

    On matters of ability or when we behave well or successfully, however, a false uniqueness effect more often occurs (Goethals & others, 1991). We serve our selfimage by seeing our talents and moral behaviors as relatively unusual. For example, those who use marijuana but use seat belts will overestimate (false consensus) the number of other marijuana users and underestimate (false uniqueness) the number of other seat belt users (Suls & others, 1988). Thus, we may see our failings as relatively normal and our virtues as relatively exceptional.

    To sum up, self-serving bias appears as self-serving attributions, self-congratulatory comparisons, illusory optimism, and false consensus for one’s failings.

    from: Social Psychology - David G. Myers

  3. Illusory Optimism…Ignorant Bliss will keep you Sane and Happy

    brainmtters:

    Your brain won’t allow you to believe the apocalypse could actually happen


    by Analee Newitz

    You may love stories about the end of the world, but that’s probably because, deep down, you don’t believe it could ever happen. But that’s not because you’re realistic. It’s actually a quirk of the human brain, recently explored by a group of neuroscientists, which prevents us from adjusting our expectations about the future — even if there’s good evidence that bad things are about to happen.

    A group of researchers from Germany and the UK designed a fairly complex psychological test to determine how people planned for negative events in the future. First, they asked the about the likelihood of 80 different disturbing events happening, such as contracting a fatal disease or being attacked. After they’d recorded people’s responses, researchers told each subject the actual, statistical likelihood of such events happening. In some cases, people had overestimated the likelihood and in some cases they’d underestimated it.

    Read More

    (Source: io9.com, via psychologybits)

  4. Optimism Is a Brain Defect, says mighty fMRI scans

    psydoctor8:

    Pervasive, persistent optimism is one of those uniquely human traits/flaws — we tend to believe things are better than they really are, or that negative consequences won’t befall us, even if they befall others. It stands to reason that people would adjust their expectations when confronted with harsh reality, yet they don’t. Our brains are to blame, according to a new study — we’re wired to have a positive outlook.

    Neuroscientists have been searching for the physiological underpinnings for this sanguineness, because there are actual harms that can come from an “it-can’t-happen-to-me” or “it’ll-get-better-this-year” attitude. People might make reckless decisions or have unrealistic expectations, in everything from personal health to finance. Researchers have thought this rose-colored outlook is mediated in the brain centers involved in error processing, so a team from England and Germany set about studying this using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

    Mighty meaning, “meh”, but it’s an interesting idea. Read more about the study:  Via. 

  5. Planning Fallacy

    The Planning fallacy is the tendency to underestimate the time needed to complete tasks. The planning fallacy actually stems from another error, The Optimism Bias, which is the tendency for individuals to be overly positive about the outcome of planned actions. People are more susceptible to the planning fallacy when the task is something they have never done before. The reason for this is because we estimate based on past experiences. For example, if I asked you how long it takes you to grocery shop, you will consider how long it has taken you in the past, and you will have a reasonable answer. If I ask you how long it will take you to do something you have never done before, like completing a thesis or climbing Mount Everest, you have no experience to reference, and because of your inherent optimism, you will guesstimate less time than you really need. To help you with this fallacy, remember Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

    Interesting Fact: “Realistic pessimism” is a phenomenon where depressed or overly pessimistic people more accurately predict task completion estimations.

    Source

  6. Happythankyoumoreplease (2010)

    Happythankyoumoreplease (2010)

    (Source: joeydeangelis)

  7. Depressive realism

    Depressive realism is the proposition that people with depression actually have a more accurate perception of reality, specifically that they are less affected by positive illusions of illusory superiority, the illusion of control and optimism bias. The concept refers to people with borderline or moderate depression, suggesting that while non-depressed people see things in an overly positive light and severely depressed people see things in overly negative light, the mildly discontented grey area in between in fact reflects the most accurate perception of reality.