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In The Face Of Uncertainty, Optimists Can Think The Worst

Dorathy Gass

According to a new study, optimists may think of the worst, especially when it comes to uncertain situations. The research came out of the University of California and was recently published in the Journal of Personality.

Medical News Today reported that past research suggested it is good for one’s health to have a ‘glass is half full’ attitude, with a recent study that revealed optimistic women were 30% less likely to pass away from various causes when compared to pessimistic females.

The study team aimed to dive into the idea of how optimistic individuals dealt with uncertain news. As per the study authors, past research has revealed that high schoolers often think the worst when they are awaiting midterm grades to be revealed. With that same thought, as it concerns to health or medical test results coming closer, some individuals may begin to believe that their symptoms are worse than they are.

The researchers took on the task of reviewing over nine studies of data, taking a close look at optimistic and pessimistic responses to differing situations. While there were studies that took place in a controlled lab (awaiting test results, for example); others were conducted in real-life scenarios.

The authors evaluated tendencies, and whether or not each individual leaned toward optimism or pessimism. They also assessed optimists as they geared up to learn the outcome of uncertain news.

The results were quite interesting. The study revealed that optimists were likely to expect the worst outcome when awaiting the reveal of uncertainty, equal to that of their pessimistic counterparts.

Kate Sweeny, one of the lead authors of the report chimed in the results stating that despite their intuition, optimistic individuals are not exempt to a rising pessimistic feeling when it came to the reveal of uncertain news. In addition, not one study differed when it came to tendencies between optimists and pessimists when bracing for the worse-case scenario.

The researchers note that the fact that optimists can sometimes believe the worst when face with uncertainty may not be a ‘bad’ thing. It simply may mean the individuals are protecting themselves emotionally for bad news to come.

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