Sunday, August 21, 2011

Is this optimism or pessimism?

The latest in a series of studies by EP Espejo has found something that I find interesting and I think you will too.  Apparently, there is a strong connection between how you perceive life events as a 15 year old on future anxiety and depressive disorders.

Basically, consider two 15-year-olds having the same negative experience.  But one perceives it more negatively than the other does.  The one with the more negative perceptions is more likely to develop anxiety disorders and depression later in life.  At first, I thought of this as pessimists having more risk of these disorders than optimists.  But then I thought it could the opposite as well.  Optimism and pessimism is really about expectations of future events, not perceptions of past events.  There is also evidence (that I have blogged about recently),  that bracing yourself for negative results helps you to deal with them.  So what if pessimists are more braced, and therefore are not as surprised when bad things happen.  On the other hand, optimists expect good things, so would be more surprised by bad things.  They would therefore be more disappointed and perhaps perceive it more negatively.  So maybe it is optimists that are more at risk for anxiety and depression.

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