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6/24/09

Don't Underestimate Yourself

Psychologists have observed that depressives have a more realistic view than have optimists. This should offer little comfort to those who are inclined to expect gray skies rather than sunshine. You can spend your life preparing for thunder storms and miss the pleasure of blue skies. Optimists also tend to accomplish more in life.

Do you prepare yourself for the possibility of bad news by assuming the worst?

Well, don't.

In an experiment, students took a personality test. Then they had to wait for the results of the test. Having taken the test on a computer, they sat in front of its screen. The computer randomly offered them a choice. They could predict the results would be good or bad.

What happened? The "official" results were given to the students. Those with bad results felt no less bad even though they had predicted a poor outcome. Those with good results felt no better, though they had predicted a good outcome.

The point here: having low expectations did not help alleviate feelings of students with bad results.

"Likewise, students who had low expectations of their performance on midterm exams did not feel better than students with high expectations after getting their exams back. The authors speculate that people cling to the low-expectations strategy because they falsely assume that the initial emotional impact from learning the actual outcome will last for a long time. "More

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