They link excessive optimism with decreased cognitive abilities

Optimism has long been considered an advantage, because having a positive attitude helps you better deal with difficult situations and enjoy life in general. But in this case the virtue is in the middle, i.e optimism It can also distort the perception of reality and reason Let’s make bad decisions With very negative consequences for our economic well-being, for example.

An investigation conducted by experts from University of Bath (UK) found that excessive optimism is associated with decline Cognitive abilitiessuch as verbal fluency, flexible thinking, numerical reasoning, and memory, and that those with high cognitive ability tend to have more Realistic and pessimistic In their expectations for the future.

“Predicting the future accurately is difficult, which is why we expect those with lower cognitive ability to make more errors in their judgments, both pessimistic and optimistic. But the results are clear: Decreased cognitive ability “It leads to more biases: people are basically deceiving themselves to some extent.” Dr. Chris Dawson From the university’s College of Management.

“This points to the idea that while evolution may prepare humans to hope for the best, those with high cognitive ability are better able to override this automatic response when it comes to important decisions. Plans built on overly optimistic beliefs lead to Bad decision “They will almost certainly produce worse results than would happen with realistic beliefs,” Dr. Dawson adds.

How positive thinking affects decision making

The study was published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin It shows that the impact of overly optimistic beliefs was particularly evident in decisions related to important financial issues, such as employment, investments or saving, and in general, any choice that involves risk and uncertainty, and carries serious consequences for people.

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the Optimistic financial outlook Which is not adapted to reality can lead to excessive consumption and debt, as well as insufficient savings. They can also contribute to starting unprofitable businesses. The chances of starting a successful business are slim, but optimists always believe that they have an excellent opportunity and will start a business that is doomed to failure.

“The problem with being wired to think positively is that it can negatively affect the quality of our decision-making, especially when we have to make serious decisions.”

The researchers relied on data from a survey conducted on 36,312 households in the United Kingdom, and examined people’s expectations about their financial well-being and compared them to their actual financial results. The research found that those with the highest cognitive abilities experienced a 22% increase in the likelihood of being “realistic” and a 35% decrease in the likelihood of being “highly optimistic.”

“The problem with being wired to think positively is that it can negatively impact the quality of our decision-making, especially when we have to make serious decisions,” Dawson said. “We need to be able to overcome it, and this research shows that people “People with high cognitive ability handle this better than those with low cognitive ability.”

“Unrealistic optimism is one of the most widespread human traits, and research has shown that people constantly downplay the negative and emphasize the positive. Concept ‘positive thinking’ The expert concludes that this belief is undoubtedly rooted in our culture, and it would be healthy to review this belief.

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