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  1. #1
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Default Optimism/pessimism - what makes people gravitate towards one or the other?

    I have noticed that people believe what they want to believe, about themselves and others. This is especially true, when there is some element of ambiguity involved about the truth, the person who is questioning, will simply believe what they want to believe. In addition, I have noticed that individuals are inclined to gravitate towards positive or negative thoughts when faced with ambiguity. I don't knock or blame anyone for doing this, as I do it myself too, but it has made me wonder, what makes a person gravitate towards positive thinking or negative thinking? Is it something we are born with?
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  2. #2
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    It seems to have a lot to do with the presence or absence of neuroticism, with more neuroticism meaning more of a bias toward negative interpretations. But if you follow the link, you'll see there's a lot of discussion about what makes a person neurotic, and that article hardly even gets into social factors. So there is not much of a strong consensus yet.
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  3. #3
    filling some space UnitOfPopulation's Avatar
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    It is mostly genetically determined, as per previous post.

    Edit: actually, absense of negative emotions is not the same as presence of positive emotions. In addition, absense of positive emotions is not the same as the presence of negative emotions. I think the PEN model Great Ideas in Personality--PEN Model captures this pretty well.
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  4. #4
    alchemist Legion's Avatar
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    Born with it? It is commonly said that are genetics dispose us to certain traits, and these must be activated by the environment. So perhaps some are disposed to see the best or worst, and their experiences bring out this tendency. Even without a genetic component, you can see how early experiences could teach us one or the other. Perhaps due to the factors of luck and circumstance, when faced with an uncertain outcome, some may find that things tend in one direction or the other. And then, there are general thinking patterns at play. A depressive mindset will make one pessimistic, and depression is a preoccupation with the negative, again a result of disposition, and a failing to learn of realistic thinking patterns and coping mechanisms.

    Basically, I don't really know. It's complicated.

    But once you are aware of your tendencies, why assume either the best or the worst? Take a more realistic approach. Don't just assume things will turn out for the best, make it happen.
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  5. #5
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    It seems to have a lot to do with the presence or absence of neuroticism, with more neuroticism meaning more of a bias toward negative interpretations. But if you follow the link, you'll see there's a lot of discussion about what makes a person neurotic, and that article hardly even gets into social factors. So there is not much of a strong consensus yet.
    Hmm, sounds interesting. I will check that out tonight. Thank you.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    It seems to have a lot to do with the presence or absence of neuroticism, with more neuroticism meaning more of a bias toward negative interpretations. But if you follow the link, you'll see there's a lot of discussion about what makes a person neurotic, and that article hardly even gets into social factors. So there is not much of a strong consensus yet.
    Erich Fromm's social character ideas going to make a come back?

  7. #7
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    I think it was at some point an advantage to make snap judgments about things, because we probably didn't have the time to mull over the pros and cons of various situations. This need to form opinions is like a busy robot worker which needs a job so your brain gives it a job to keep it out of the way - we don't NEED it most of the time anymore but we can't shut it off.

    You're an optimist if the glass is half full, a pessimist if it is half empty, and if you're stranded in the desert then you're just glad to have some freaking water.

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