Disadvantages to Being Optimistic?

Are there disadvantages to being optimistic? It’s hard to think that being an optimist would be a disadvantage. Typically pessimism is the side that is seen more like a disadvantage. Is it always a positive advantage to being optimistic? Optimists are positive and self-motivated with a confident outlook on life and tackle ambitions. They look for the good in everything. This is the opposite of pessimism, which a negative outlook and a discouraging attitude. Pessimists see the bad and worse in everything rather than the positive. There are always doubts about goals rather than confidence (Gruman et al, 2017).

With the understanding of optimism in comparison to pessimism, what are the advantages and disadvantages of being an optimist?

The two main advantages I see with being an optimist is:

  • Positive Attitude—

This can be a great advantage to confidence and a positive attitude towards life in general.

  • Confidence—

Facing your goals and dreams with confidence is valuable and an advantage to approach with confidence rather than fear.


However, with confidence and a positive attitude, optimists can take on goals and challenges that are not attainable. Too much confidence can put us in risky situations with relationships, money, work, etc. While pessimists have more of a negative or “realistic” outlook, they do tend to play it more safe. Is that a bad thing, though, to play it safe instead of taking risks? There needs to be a balance of the two, so we can tackle our dreams, but not risk any big for our goals. How we obtain our achievements is up to you, whether it be through a more optimist or pessimist attitude.


Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2017). Applied Social Psychology:Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems(3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage. ISBN 9781483369730


  1. One thing that was not touched upon yet is the idea that being optimistic about something happening in the future could also lead to the opposite of a self-fulfilling prophecy. While an optimist has been shown to be more likely to take steps towards achieving their goals if they believe they will happen, it’s possible that this belief could cause them to avoid those steps. If they already believe that a certain outcome is going to happen, then maybe it doesn’t matter what they do because it will happen no matter what. A good example of this is how it has been found that verbalizing your intent to do something has been proven to give people a sense of accomplishment before they have actually completed a task (Gollwitzer, et. al., 2009). With this in mind, it’s possible that the belief that an optimist has could lead them to feel accomplishment and thereby diminish their likelihood of achieving their goals.

    Gollwitzer, P. M., Sheeran, P., Michalski, V., & Seifert, A. E. (2009). When intentions go public: Does social reality widen the intention-behavior gap? Psychological Science, 20(5), 612-618. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02336.x

  2. Alexandra Kalasky

    I think there is such a thing as being too optimistic as well. There are many instances where optimism can lead to chasing after something too far from the individual’s reach. It is important to have self-awareness and the ability to recognize one’s capabilities, so they know when to step back and realize that there are some things that are unattainable. This is when optimism ends in downfalls that hurt more because they were so sure of their ability to complete a certain task or goal. I believe the balance between optimism and pessimism is realism, which is being able to accept situations and circumstances for what they are. There is nothing wrong with having a positive outlook in life and being able to maintain an optimistic mentality, but sometimes it helps to know one’s limits.

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