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“Think positive” is an affirmation that people usually say when their friends or relatives face problems. Having a positive outlook in life has tangible benefits as it helps individuals achieve happiness, better relationships, and good health. However, it has its limits and can be an ineffective approach to life.
Don Moore, who studies overconfidence and its effects on people’s lives, is a professor at the Berkeley Haas School of Business.
“As a rule, you’ll get the advice that it’s better to be optimistic, but the truth is that it makes no difference. Sometimes it’s even worse.”Don Moore
It is usual for humans to overestimate the possibility of festive events to occur. Likewise, people underestimate the likelihood of occurrence of an adverse event. As a result, people have increased optimism and reduce the anxiety that contributes to good physical and mental health. However, this over-optimism could lead to more risks during the pandemic, according to behavioral psychologists.
Psychologists and experts consider this behavior as “optimism bias.” They argue that it has become indisputable as people start to neglect the threats of the COVID-19 virus despite being aware of its repercussions. A study conducted found out that “the majority of people believed themselves to be at less risk from the virus than the average person, regardless of their age and gender,” as mentioned in a news report.
“This is very typical of what optimism bias is. You usually believe that your likelihood of experiencing negative events is lower than people like you, and the likelihood of you experiencing positive events is higher than other people like you.”Cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot
Sharot explains that the optimism bias phenomenon is partially an outcome of people’s inclination to envision festive events in the future, and consequently attribute greater likelihood to them, whose book of a similar name dives into the point.
“I think now the risk is greater because we have gotten used to this threat. And when you get used to a threat, you underestimate it even more.”Tali Sharot
When people get accustomed to the virus’s threats, they start becoming optimistic that everything is going well in this “new normal.” Optimism bias makes people overlook the real issues and keeps others expressing negative feelings such as fear, anxiety, and pain.