07.11.2018 change 07.11.2018

Psychologist: Propensity for optimism is more frequent than pessimistic tendencies

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Propensity for optimism is generally more common among people than pessimistic tendencies. It may mean that we have a genetic predisposition to be optimistic, says psychologist Dr. Agnieszka Czerw from the SWSP University in Poznań. She adds that optimism can be trained.

Dr. Agnieszka Czerw - an occupational and organizational psychology expert - has been conducting research on optimism, and more specifically on the optimistic attitude for many years. She examines the real level of optimism among Poles and investigates how people function depending on this level.

The psychologist conducts her research with an original questionnaire that measures optimism, consisting of four dimensions: achievement-orientation, carelessness, positive thinking, openness. Over a dozen years, she surveyed a total of 800-900 Poles, in different age groups - from 18 to 87 years.

Her research shows that Poles differ not only in the intensity of optimism, but also different types can be distinguished among them. According to the psychologist, there are four optimistic types of people and one classically pessimistic type.

"You could say that there are global optimists who generally think positively, take risks, are focused on achieving things, are open to new experiences. There are average optimists, as well as cautious optimists who do not take risks in their lives. There are gamblers who really like the risk, but they do not necessarily see the possibility of their own development based on that risk. And there are also pessimists" - says Dr. Czerw.

The researcher emphasizes that optimistic people prevail in the world population: on a global scale people are always more positive than negative. "In everyday life, we are more often in good moods than bad ones, even though sometimes it feels different" - adds the psychologist.

Where does it come from? Firstly - in her opinion - this tendency is an inherent genetic trait. "To put it simply, our nervous system, temperament, which we talk about in psychology, determines the tendency to be in a good mood, think more optimistically" - she notes.

On the other hand, we can learn how to be optimistic. "You can train yourself, you can raise your children to be more optimistic, but in adulthood your can also do something to look more optimistically at the world" - the expert says.

The psychologist admits that the basic conclusion one can draw from her research is: it is better to be an optimist than a pessimist, because it brings more benefits to both ourselves and our environment.

"Optimists are generally in better moods, they are more satisfied with life, and therefore they do a lot of things with greater enthusiasm and it brings them more satisfaction. Of course, they also sometimes fail, but they also deal better with failure. In the context of others, we are able, as optimists, infect them with good mood, good emotions, improve another person`s mood, show a better side of life, even in difficult situations. People like optimists" - she adds.

Optimism is also conducive to a sense of happiness in life, because it is a state of general satisfaction with life, a feeling that life is good, that your are going in the right direction. Optimism is also associated with looking ahead and predicting the future.

"If I assume that the future will be good, that I have all kinds of competences that I can use to solve problems, to move forward, to develop, it brings me satisfaction with life, sense of its meaning, that is, generally - a sense of happiness" - says Dr. Czerw.

According to the occupational psychology expert, when it comes to professional work, optimists can do better than those who are pessimistic. Optimists are more open to various challenges and changes.

"If we look at the modern world of work, we see how many changes surprise us. An optimist is better at dealing with those changes, more ready to take a chance, do something new, check how it works. He does not immediately negate, say that it will certainly not work. And a pessimist will rather go in that direction" - she notes.

A higher level of optimism helps people adapt to a new situation, for example in the face of changes in the labour market or in their own company, or when they have to change jobs. It is much harder for pessimists.

"That is why it is so important to try to change the attitude from pessimistic to optimistic, because it generally helps in these difficult situations, for example in work" - concludes Dr. Agnieszka Czerw from the SWPS University in Poznań.

Author: Kamil Szubański (PAP)

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