Half empty or half full? Test your optimism

Half empty or half full?The Boston Globe reports today that many of us — possibly 80% — are optimists.

Optimism and pessimism alike each have benefits. Studies suggest that optimists may enjoy better health, but being overly optimistic can be a hindrance when it comes to launching or running a business.

The effect of optimism may also be influenced by one’s career:

The importance of positivity can vary by profession. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman, a leading researcher on optimism, has found that pessimistic law students are the most successful. Optimistic sales agents, on the other hand, significantly outsell pessimistic ones.

And optimism may even have political consequences:

According to Seligman’s analysis of presidential elections between 1948 and 1984, optimists usually win. Pessimists lost 9 of those 10 elections.

Test yourself to measure how optimistic you are at the Authentic Happiness web site (registration required first for access to tests). Or take this shorter test posted at the Boston Globe.

2 responses to “Half empty or half full? Test your optimism

  1. I agree that optimism is great and results in a happier life. Basically being an optimistic nature also gives more positive reactions by others. But in businesses you also have to calculate with the worst case. So probably the best is to have a mixture of both.

  2. Hi, Diane!
    Martin Seligman has written many great books. My favorite is The Optimistic Child, in which he argues that parents (and teachers) can train children to be more optimistic. It includes a test for different age children on where they fit on an optimism scale and interventions that can be used to help pessimistic children see that untoward events are not premanent and pervasive. It’s a wonderful skill that we can give to our children.