Echoes of the Optimism Bias
“Our brains aren’t just shaped by the past. They are constantly being shaped by our future.”
80% of people describe themselves as optimists. Our brains are wired to see the bright side. Tali Sharot’s TED talk on our collective bias toward optimism went online.
“We are more optimistic than realistic, but we are oblivious to the fact. Take marriage for example. In the Western world, divorce rates are about 40%. But when you ask newlyweds about their own likelihood of divorce, they estimate it at zero percent. Even divorce lawyers. Optimists are not less likely to divorce, but they are more likely to remarry. In the words of Samuel Johnson, “Remarriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”
Some say ‘Happiness correlates with low expectations.’
It’s a good theory, but it turns out to be wrong for three reasons:
1) Whatever happens, whether you succeed or you fail, people with high expectations always feel better, because how we feel — when we get dumped or we win employee of the month — depends on how we interpret that event.
2) Regardless of outcome, anticipation makes us happy.
3) Optimism changes subjective and objective reality. Optimism leads to success. If we expect the future to be bright, stress and anxiety are reduced.”