Half empty or half full? Test your optimism

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.

                        author

Diane J. Levin

Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property… MORE >

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