The Optimist’s Brain

This week’s Time magazine has Warren Buffet on the cover announcing that he is an optimist.  Great, I wish we all were.  But research is beginning to demonstrate that optimists are a little different from the rest of us.

In an experiment, subjects were asked to estimate the likelihood of the occurrence of a bad event, like a car theft.  Then, they were told the real possibility of the event happening.

Here is where optimists are unusual.  When the possibility of the car theft was actually HIGHER than the optimists had estimated, the optimists DID NOT revise their guess to include the new, negative information.  They weren’t faking.  Not surprising, their brain’s frontal lobe activity also suggested that their brains were not processing the bad news.

I guess that optimists and pessimists really think differently.

Source: Nature Neuroscience, October 9, 2011.


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