Research by Meza, David& Dawson, Chris (2020). Neither an Optimist Nor a Pessimist Be: Mistaken Expectations Lower Well-Being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,014616722093457.doi:10.1177/0146167220934577
Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S
Do you think it is better to be optimistic or pessimistic?
Business management researchers studied1,600 British participants’ views on finances and overall wellbeing using surveys. Would financial optimists feel better because of their positivity, or would financial pessimists feel better because of their preparedness or caution?
Results? Neither is better! In fact, the researchers found that realists (with no mistaken expectations) had the healthiest mental well-being over time. Compared to realists, pessimists had 37% and optimists 12% more difficulty in coping, and pessimists had a 22% reduction in overall well-being and optimists 13%.
Why might this be? The researchers believe that optimists have a greater chance of becoming disappointed if their unrealistically positive views do not come true, which leads to distress. They believe that pessimists expect negative outcomes to such a strong degree which dampers their reaction to positive results, as they might view the outcome as avoiding something bad rather than achieving something good. By hoping, but having few expectations and accepting “what will be, will be,” we might be better able to accept unwanted outcomes and appreciate positive ones.