Question: What is a pessimistic person like?

Being pessimistic means that you tend to see the worst parts of things or think the worst will happen. A pessimistic person is one who is often seen as lacking hope and joy and is marked by disbelief or distrust. Basically, to be pessimistic means expecting the worst in all situations.

What are some characteristics of a pessimist?

You tend to focus on your flaws or weaknesses rather than your strengths. You often feel annoyed by other peoples sunny optimism. You often engage in negative self-talk. You assume that all good things will come to an end eventually.

Is pessimism a personality trait?

Pessimism can manifest as a personality trait, as studies show it may be at least partially influenced by genetics. Genetic makeup can influence an individuals perception of the world by amplifying negative experiences and emotions. ... Some research has indicated pessimism bias may be more common in women than in men.

What is a pessimistic thinker?

What is difference between pessimistic thinker and optimistic thinker? A pessimistic thinker tends to believe that things are going to turn out badly and there is little hope for the future. An optimistic thinker believes that most things are good and that things will work out for the best.

This page is dedicated to the research why people are optimistic or pessimistic about certain things and how this is influenced by human nature, the media, and social circumstances.

What is a pessimistic person like?

We are interested in this topic also because it is closely linked to for publishing Our World in Data. We face big global problems, but living conditions around the world have improved in important ways; fewer people are dying of disease, conflict and famine; more of us are receiving a basic education; the world is becoming more democratic; we live longer and lead healthier lives.

Why is that we — especially those in the developed world — often have a negative view on how the world has changed over the last decades and centuries? Why we are so pessimistic about our collective future? It is a peculiar empirical phenomenon that while people tend to be optimistic about their own future, they can at the same time be deeply pessimistic about the future of their nation or the world.

That is, we tend to be optimistic rather than realistic when considering our individual future. If you were to ask newlywed couples to estimate the probability they will divorce in the future, they would likely reject the possibility outright.

Another example is asking smokers to estimate their chances of getting cancer and again, most would underestimate their risk. This optimism persists even when people are presented with the relevant statistics. From the end of 1995 to the middle of 2015, around 60% of people predict that their job situation will remain the same, while 20% expect their situation to improve. Compare that with the response of the same group of individuals considering the future of the economic situation in their home country.

Although far less stable, the results show that most people expect the economic situation in their home country to get worse or stay the same. The expectation that things are going to worsen nationally is correlated with recessions, yet there is remarkable stability What is a pessimistic person like? the results for individual expectations. This pattern is also observed on a larger scale.

This chart shows how many individuals rate the environment in their local area as fairly or very bad, compared with the environment nationally and globally. Again, we observe a similar pattern for most countries. No matter where you ask people are much more negative about places that are far away — places which they know less from their own experience and more through the media.

What is a pessimistic person like?

How can we reconcile this individual optimism with social pessimism? This explanation suggests there is a problem of information. If we do not pay attention to human development, then our judgement may suffer from a bias related to transient events or framing. Most people understand the world by generalizing personal experiences which are very biased. Unintentionally, people end-up carrying around a sack of outdated facts that you got in school including knowledge that often was outdated when acquired in school.

If we feel more in control of our lives, we tend to be happier, healthier and more optimistic about the future. This could also help to explain the gap between individual and societal optimism: since we are in direct control of our own lives but not the destiny of the nation we What is a pessimistic person like? more optimistic about ourselves.

In fact, the share of people living in extreme poverty across the world has been declining for two centuries and in the last 20 years this positive development has been faster than ever before see our. There are some people who answered the question correctly: every fifth person knows that poverty is falling. The countries I marked with a star are those that were a low-income or lower-middle-income countries a generation ago in 1990. In these poorer countries more people understand how global poverty has changed.

People in richer countries on the other hand — in which the majority of the population escaped extreme poverty — have a very wrong perception about what is happening to global poverty. We are not just wrong about global poverty. The child mortality rate in both the less- and least-developed countries has in the last 20 years.

The survey once more shows that most people are not aware of this. On average only 39% know that the What is a pessimistic person like? of children is falling. And what greater achievement has humanity ever achieved than making it more and more likely that children survive the first, vulnerable years of their lives and sparing parents the sadness of losing their babies?

And just as with knowledge about extreme poverty, the share of uninformed people is much higher in the rich countries of the world. So is our work at Our World in Data needed? The widespread ignorance about these truly important changes in the world feeds into a general discontent about how the world is changing. In France and Australia only 3%! And again we see that in poorer countries the share of people who answer positively is higher. What What is a pessimistic person like?

we make of the fact that many perceive the world to be stagnating or even declining in global health or poverty while we are in fact achieving the most rapid improvements in our history in these very same aspects? First, this is simply sad. It means that we think worse of the world than we should. We think more poorly than we should about the time we are living in, and we think more poorly What is a pessimistic person like?

we should about what people around the world are achieving right now. Second it makes clear that we are doing a terrible job at understanding and communicating what is happening in the world.

What is a pessimistic person like?

Particularly in rich countries the education systems and media are failing to convey an accurate perspective on how the world is changing — arguably one of the main expectations we should have of them. Our perception of how the world is changing matters for what we believe is possible in the future.

More than half of the people expect stagnation or that things will be getting worse. Fortunately, the places in which people currently have the worst living conditions are more optimistic about what is possible in the coming years. On the whole, the findings from the surveys are clear: we do not only believe that the world is stagnating or declining, we also expect that this perceived stagnation or decline will continue into the future.

This pessimism about what is possible for the world matters politically. The few optimists on the other hand will want to see the necessary changes for the improvements they are expecting. Finally the survey suggests that there is a connection between our perception of the past and our hope for the future.

Those that were most pessimistic about the future tended to have the least basic knowledge on how the world has changed. Of those who could not give a single correct answer to the survey questions, only 17% expect the world to be better off in the future. At the other end of What is a pessimistic person like? spectrum, those who had very good knowledge about how the world has changed were the most optimistic about the changes that we can achieve in the next 15 years.

This is a correlation and as we know, correlation does not imply causation. Unfortunately I am not aware of a study that looked into this question. Of course no one can know how the future turns out and there is nothing that What is a pessimistic person like? make the progress we have seen in recent decades continue inevitably and not every global development pessimist is ill-informed.

Challenging Automatic Negative Thoughts — Mind My Peelings

But what we do know from these surveys is that these two views go together: Those who are pessimistic are much more likely to have little understanding about what is happening in the world.

Obviously the question then is, why is it that better informed people are more optimistic about the future? As we have seen, being wrong about global development mostly means being too negative about how the world is changing.

Being wrong in these questions means having a cynical worldview. Cynicism suggests that nothing can be done to improve our situation and every effort to do so is bound to fail. Our history, the cynics say, is a history of failures and what we can expect for the future is more of the same. In contrast to this, answering the questions correctly means that you understand that things can change.

An accurate understanding of how global health and poverty are improving leaves no space for cynicism. Those who are optimistic about the future can base their view on the knowledge that it is What is a pessimistic person like?

to change the world for the better, because they know that we did. Declinism refers to the belief that a country or some other institution is in decline.

Declinism was a prevalent feature of British political and economic history, whereby the decline of Britain as a world power was seen as the result of What is a pessimistic person like?

failures rather than international forces or global convergence. In many ways this may capture the reason why the most developed nations tend to believe that their economy is in decline: relative decline is interpreted as absolute decline.

This pattern persists when considering economies at different stages of development: developing countries are more optimistic about the future, while developed ones tend to be pessimistic. One interesting explanation for declinism is that it is the result of the way we encode memories and what we remember. Firstly, researchers have long established a robust pattern in the age at which we retain the most memories.

In old age, memories from our lives are not evenly distributed but instead concentrated in two regions.

Optical illusion of cat reveals whether you are an optimist or a pessimist

These regions are 1 memories formed in adolescence and early adulthood, between the ages of 10-30, and 2 recent memory of events. The following figure is a useful representation of this distribution. Secondly, research What is a pessimistic person like? that as we get older we tend to have — on average — fewer negative experiences and that we are more likely to remember the positive ones over the negative ones.

This effect combined with the reminiscence bump could explain why declinism exists among older generations, and why your parents could never stand the music you listened to!

It is slowly being crushed to death under the weight of verbal conglomerate, a pseudospeech at once both pretentious and feeble, that is created daily by millions of blunders and inaccuracies in grammar, syntax, idiom, metaphor, logic, and common sense…. In the history of modern English there is no period in which such victory over thought-in-speech has been so widespread. Nor in the past has the general idiom, on which we depend for our very understanding of vital matters, been so seriously distorted.

There are three main reasons we should try to combat social pessimism and declinism. The first reason is simple; indicators of living What is a pessimistic person like? are significantly improving around the world. By monitoring and researching these changes we can identify ways in which progress can be achieved.

Over the long-run, say 50-100 years, human progress has been staggering with the benefits not confined to the richest or most powerful. The second reason is that if our perceptions of the reality are wrong, we can end up prioritising the wrong things and making ineffectual change.

Finally, being optimistic can be good for your health, while having a pessimistic outlook can be detrimental to your health. The public perception of these indicators matters because it directly What is a pessimistic person like? the priorities of voters in democratic countries and politicians.

If, as in the example above, the public believes crime is increasing, it is likely that it demands more policing not for a reason grounded in reality, but for an imagined worsening of the society they live it. This is one reason why incorrect public perceptions can be a problem.

The following figures underline just how sizable these effects can be. One contributing factor to some of the widespread misinformation seems What is a pessimistic person like? be the content consumed through media channels. In addition to this, almost half suggested that what they read in newspapers was a factor.

Research conducted by Stefano DellaVigna and Ethan Kaplan highlights the degree to which the media can influence voting behaviour. DellaVigna and Kaplan looked at how the What is a pessimistic person like? of Fox News between 1996 and 2000 in different towns affected voting patterns and turnout in the Presidential election of 2000. Fox News also affected voter turnout and the Republican vote share in the Senate.

Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 28 percent of its viewers to vote Republican, depending on the audience measure. The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, What is a pessimistic person like? a permanent effect for nonrational voters subject to persuasion. With all the negative news stories and sensationalism that exists in the media it may be hard to believe things are improving. These events can be contextualized as short-term fluctuations in an otherwise positive global trend.

We discuss many important improvements in our. There is a large literature that links an optimistic outlook on life to positive health outcomes. Julia Boehm and Laura Kubzansky reviewed over 200 published studies to investigate the link between a positive psychological outlook optimism, life satisfaction and happiness and cardiovascular health. Optimistic individuals had higher levels of good cholesterol and lower levels of triglycerides. Similar results were also found by researchers writing in the Archives of General Psychiatry; using data from the Netherlands, they found that the most optimistic individuals had a 55% reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a 23% reduced risk of cardiovascular death.

Dire predictions for the future are nothing new. Indeed we can go back centuries or even millennia and find plenty of examples of pessimistic accounts of the future of the world. This infographic shows a series of predictions for the year in which the world will end — from religious figures to scientists like John Napier and Isaac Newton.

The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain. New York: Pantheon Books, 2011. New York: Ted Conferences, 2012. Gallup Jr, and Alec M. The overdramatic worldview leaves us with a picture of the world that includes all the stories that are in fact rare the fact that they are extraordinary is why they are reported in the mediabut which has no understanding of what is actually common.

Journal references: Hyland, Diane T. Jansari, Ashok, and Alan J. Famous last words: The American language crisis reconsidered. Southern Illinois University Press, 1983.

Harvard School of Public Health 2012. Reuse our work freely All visualizations, data, and code produced by Our World in Data are completely open access under the. You have the permission to use, distribute, and reproduce these in any medium, provided the source and authors are credited. The data produced by third parties and made available by Our World in Data is subject to the license terms from the original third-party authors. We will always indicate the original source of the data in our documentation, so you should always check the license of any such third-party data before use and redistribution.

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