Pessimism Vs. Optimism: How Mindset Affects Anxiety

However, pessimistic people feared the worst and did not sufficiently adjust their projections of future grades when they performed better than expected.

Based on a questionnaire they completed up to three years later, the researchers revealed that these pessimists later showed more indicators of anxiety.


Experts believe pessimism is a tactic people use to avoid being disappointed by unanticipated events.

That is also an indication of anxiety, so the two are likely to be linked.

‘Our results show that people who are pessimistic learn differently from the surprises in their lives,’ said Dr. Aaron Heller of the University of Miami’s Department of Psychology.

‘Not only are they less optimistic, but even when minor, unexpectedly good things happen to them, they do not modify their view as much as people who are not pessimistic, which may put them at greater risk of anxiety symptoms.’

The study, which was published in the journal Science Advances, challenged participants to estimate their scores in four tough chemical examinations.

When they performed marginally better than expected, pessimists failed to raise their predictions for themselves.

Six months to three years later, the anxiety test asked respondents whether they felt anxious and on edge, or whether they worried too much.

Previous studies had only looked at gambling tasks, which are less associated with pessimism, therefore, the researchers used exam scores to test for it (1 Trusted Source
The Neural Basis of Optimism and Pessimism

Go to source).

The Risks of Pessimism

Too much pessimism has some obvious disadvantages. Some of the biggest drawbacks of being extremely pessimistic include:

Negative Thinking is Harmful to one’s Health

According to research, women may have higher rates of depression because they engage in more rumination, brooding, and pondering. 6 Pessimistic thinking includes both ruminating and brooding.

Studies also indicate that a gloomy perspective is linked to an increase in the number of additional health hazards, including heart disease and total mortality.

Excessive Negativity Adds to Sadness and Anxiety

Excessive concern, rumination, and worst-case-scenario thinking are key signs of anxiety disorders. Similarly, pessimistic thinkers have bad moods, negative thoughts, low self-esteem, and worry, which are all variables in depression.

Pessimists are More Stressed and Have Fewer Coping Skills

According to one study, pessimism among older individuals was associated with higher stress levels, a larger focus on the less positive aspects of their lives, and a greater tendency to look back on life with more negativity in general, lowering life satisfaction.

Reference :

  1. The Neural Basis of Optimism and Pessimism

Source: Medindia

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