Benefits of pessimism

By Kate Hassett

Benefits of pessimism
Science says being pessimistic could work to your advantage.

Are you the type of person who thinks pessimism is just realism? Do you expect the worse in all situations, or are unsurprised when things don’t turn out in your favour?

To others, you might be too negative, but science has provided an enlightening study into how ‘defensive pessimism’ could indeed protect us from general reactions associated with failure.

A study published in the journal Emotion, looked at the relationship between expected outcome and waiting for test results.

Researchers found that those who actively attempted to suppress their fears ended up being more likely to be consumed by them. Similarly, those who opted for the pessimistic route and prepared for the worst were able to avoid the anxiety that accompanied the long wait for results.

This ‘defensive pessimism’ – hoping for the best, but always expecting the worst, actually worked to the naysayers advantage, by bolstering them to make contingency plans.

The results showed that those who were prepared to fail, experienced more joy when the results came back positive, over those who were positive and worry-free about their outcome.

Conversely, those who anticipated a good result were underwhelmed when they received one, and paralysed when they received a negative result.

So according to science, getting worried to the point where you are organising contingency plans is beneficial to how you are able to deal with disappointment.

So next time the worrisome feelings start to creep up – don’t fight it.


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