The Limits of Optimism

The Limits of Optimism

The following summary of recent research has been shared by Dr. Michael Yapko Ph.D.

In a recent Op-Ed piece by Robert Sapolsky, professor of neuroscience at Stanford University (LA times, March 30, 2014) he says, “Humans are forever running up against the limits of optimism.” He described the study by Christina Moutsiana and others that sited humans are inclined to want to believe in the positive and discount the negative when given feedback that affects their viewpoint about decision making and outcomes.

Essentially, if you think you have a 10% chance of winning the lottery and I tell you that really it’s a 25 % chance, you’re very likely to want to integrate that positive feedback and believe that your chances are better. But if I tell you that really, you have only¬† a 5 % chance instead of the 10% that you initially thought, you’re less likely to take that information and integrate it into your belief system.

The results were age related and showed that  adolescents had greater difficulty learning from bad news than did adults.

The discussion and conclusion related to how these findings may explain why adolescents engage in risky behaviors. An interesting study to be sure, so we’re sharing it with you at the link below.


Op ed piece:,0,2734250.story#axzz2xNjoKYxJ

Original research:

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