Have you ever pondered how attitude plays a role in your life? How do we define happiness in our lives? Social psychology is the science that delves into the ways in which negativity and positivity impact human nature. Research has demonstrated that those of us who are optimists, have positive outcome expectancies that influence our lives, our way of thinking and how we approach the world around us. (Schneider, 2012)
Seemingly, optimists have greater tenacity, or so research based evidence leads us to believe, and are less likely to let challenges or failures deter them from reaching their goals. Contrary to optimists we have those that hold onto negative expectancies, pessimists. Pessimists have negative expectancies, having the opposite impact on their lives. You know the type, they are filled with doubt and negativity, excuses and unmotivated or try to unmotivated others. Do you know someone who is a pessimist? How do they interact with others? Face challenges? How does their attitude impact their life?
With or without a positive attitude, does it really matter? Positive social psychologists argue that whether or not you do or don’t have an optimistic outlook can directly impact your quality of life. (Schneider, 2012) Individuals who hold greater optimistic expectancies, “enjoy better emotional well-being, better medical health, and better academic performance.” (Schneider, 2012) More importantly, research evidence suggests that “optimists outperform and even out-earn pessimists in work-related achievement domains.” (Schneider, 2012)
Countless studies have been conducted to demonstrate the profound impact optimism can have on our lives, in a way this psychological phenomenon has captured the attention of multiple concepts, from attribution to cognitive bias – the concept of optimism and how it relates to our mental well-being, physical health, coping mechanisms, lifestyle, health, quality of life and perception of risks is an area that continues to gain interest and that social psychologists continue to explore. (Conversano, et al., 2010)
In a Psychology Today article on optimism, the author states, “ Some optimists consistently ascribe benevolent motives to others and interpret situations in the best possible light; others simply disassociate their internal mood from external circumstances, no matter how sticky. Adding in a bit of complexity, the latest research shows that tempering a sunny disposition with a small dose of realism or even pessimism might be the best way to build resilience and achieve one’s goals.” (Psychology Today, 2015)
If you were to take a moment to self reflect and self assess where would your attitude towards life fall? Is your glass half empty or half full? Are you eating lemons or making lemonade?
Schneider, F. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to Positive Well-Being: Focus on Optimism. In Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed., pp. 379-393). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Conversano, C., Rotondo, A., Lensi, E., Vista, O., Arpone, F., & Reda, M. (2010, May 14). Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/
Psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/optimism