The Original Odd Couple - TestYourself.psychtsts.com Releases Results Of Their Research on Optimists and Pessimists
TestYourself.psychtsts.com takes a peak through rose-colored glasses and half-empty cups to uncover how pessimists and optimists view themselves and the world around them.
MONTREAL, CANADA (MARKETWIRE) -- February 18, 2012
TestYourself.psychtsts.com, a pioneer in online personality, career, IQ and relationship assessments has released its latest research on advantages and disadvantages of having an optimistic vs. pessimistic outlook. TestYourself's study reveals that while optimists may not always be sufficiently cautious, they do tend to be more satisfied with their life, their relationships, and their health.
There are some benefits to having a more cynical view of life. As Pulitzer-Prize winner George F. Will put it, "The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." Research by Gibson and Sanbonmatsu (2004) suggests that pessimists may be better gamblers, as optimists are more likely to keep trying to win despite losses, while their more negative counterparts will cut their losses and walk away. Moreover, Dr. Julie Norem, in her book The Positive Power of Negative Thinking highlights the benefits of "defensive pessimism" in contrast to "hopeless pessimism." People who practice the former will anticipate all the things that can go wrong in their pursuit of a goal, but will still move forward with a certain degree of confidence once they feel they have sufficiently prepared and planned for potential obstacles. It is the latter type of pessimism that is more likely to be linked to depression. But before pessimists offer a sarcastically laced "I told you so," there are several benefits to an optimistic attitude that cannot be ignored.
With a sample of over 16,000 people from all walks of life, TestYourself uncovered several advantages to a more optimistic attitude. Optimistic people are more satisfied with their relationships, both in their personal life and at work, are more comfortable taking risks, and tend to rate their health better than pessimists. Optimists are also better able to cope with stressful situations, and are more confident during a crisis, fully believing that they'll get through it. TestYourself's research also reveals that test-takers who admitted to being diagnosed with depression tended to score significantly lower than those who have not been diagnosed on traits related to optimism, such as hopefulness and sense of belonging.
Gender comparisons reveal that women have a stronger sense of belonging (social and emotional support from others) than men (score of 66 for women, 62 for men, on a scale from 0 to 100), and were also slightly less cynical (40 for women, 43 for men). Age comparisons indicate that optimism increases with age, as does hopefulness, sense of belonging, and the ability to cope with stress. Interestingly, cynicism actually decreases with age, perhaps putting to rest the stereotype of older people being grumpy, as characterized by films like "Grumpy Old Men", or iconic Dicken's character Ebenezer Scrooge.
"There's no doubt that optimism can have a positive impact on our lives - psychologists like Martin Seligman have dedicated decades of research to what is known today as 'Positive Psychology'," points out Dr. Ilona Jerabek, the president of the company. "However, it's important for people to truly understand what we refer to when we say 'optimism.' It's not a state of walking on the clouds, ignoring all the bad things in life. Healthy optimists are those who accept their weaknesses and strengths, building on the latter and developing the former. They choose to be hopeful for the future, and even if things do not turn out as expected; they try to find the lesson to be learned and move on. It's the extreme optimists, who believe that nothing can go wrong - and are thus not fully prepared for what does go wrong - that sometimes end up with a rude awakening."
TestYourself did find people who possessed this sense of "invincibility," with 63% of them being younger than 25. These extreme optimists are characterized as very confident, resilient against stress, and rated themselves as being in good physical health. The downside: analyses also reveal that only 27% of the people in this group wear a seatbelt when in a car, compared to 69% for the rest of TestYourself's sample.
"Clearly, a positive attitude with a healthy dose of common sense is the ideal - and with an overall optimism score of 58 for our 16,000+ sample, we can confidently theorize that most people seem to grasp this need for balance," concludes Dr. Jerabek.
TestYourself research data also reveals that:
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