The Optimism Bias & Positive Thinking

MoreSuccess

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Time Magazine recently published an article The Optimism Bias, which aligns with many of the articles we've published on the website. In fact our most recent article The Evolving Nature of Positive Thinking is very relevant to this subject.

This is an interesting subject, and surprises me how some of our visitors claim that positive thinking is unrealistic, ignores the negative realities of this world, and does nothing to help make things better. It's often hypocritical (another recent article of ours) because these same people generally seem to blame everyone else and act as if they are powerless, while those with a positive attitude more often seem to think about what they can do to change things.

The Time Magazine article describes an interesting study with some college students, where they "primed" their brains with either positive or negative words prior to performing a test. They found that when the brain didn't expect a good result, it was less likely to learn from mistakes and less likely to improve over time. The article states "Expectations become self-fulfilling by altering our performance and actions, which ultimately affects what happens in the futuree.".

The good news in this article is that apparently we are hardwired for optimism, to the point where we may be unrealistic. This could have some downsides if our expectations are so high that we set ourselves up for disappointment, so while it's great to have a positive attitude I think it has to be balanced by an understanding of what's probable.

Research shows that a positive attitude can also help our physical health, one recent article on our website discusses this. It's great to see further publicity on this topic from a major magazine.

Any thoughts on this topic?

 

Milton

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They found that when the brain didn't expect a good result, it was less likely to learn from mistakes and less likely to improve over time.
I'm not sure what's the link between not expecting a good result and less likely to learn from mistakes, but I find that if I expect myself to do well after a test, it is usually the reverse. :/
 

iebo

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I've found that repeating positive phrases does lead me to expecting positive results. As far as taking tests, I would repeat I will pass this test, I will pass this test, I have studied and prepared, and I will pass this test. It also helps to do the studying and preparation, so that you're in a good position to pass. Positive thinking needs to be reinforced with positive actions.
 

bright_light

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I agree with the article. Strong emotions or thoughts drive the body into action. If the mind has been set to think positively over and over, the resulting action is what the mind has focused on...the expected positive result.
 

beingwell

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For me positive thinking is focusing on the positive rather than the negative. Well, it seems like very elementary but that's all there is to it, really. It's not being unrealistic since you know that there is that "bad" thing on the other side of the spectrum but what you are trying to do in positive thinking is focusing more on the good stuff, on the positive stuff. It's actually not an easy thing to do. It really takes practice to be able to appreciate the powers and benefits of positive thinking.
 

speedy

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"Expectations become self-fulfilling by altering our performance and actions, which ultimately affects what happens in the futuree.".

I agree with this line. A good expectation may led us into a good result. There are people, and I admit that I am subject to it sometimes will not expect more because they don't want be upset and dismay of what will be the result. Once, I applied for a job and I never expect to get hired and I never did. Then I also tried to to apply for a job and I was on the peak of being optimistic that time and I get the job instantly and I was a record breaker for the position of how a first time applicant get the job which is almost impossible even to the second timer. I learned a lot with the experienced that we lost nothing if we consider something and do it positively.