On Mar 25, 2010
We all know when people say “That glass is half full” they are optimists.
But, how else can we spot them?
Does a person’s communication give us clues?
According to Susan C. Vaughan M.D. the author of ‘Half Full Half Empty, Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism’, we can identify optimists through the following 2 characteristics.
Dr. Vaughan says we can identify optimists two ways:
- They exhibit a specific attributional style: when they experience successes they tend to take more credit than they deserve and when they experience failures they tend to blame others or unfavourable circumstances.
- They make downward comparisons. For example, they think or say things like “I am sure glad I am not so and so” [some less fortunate person]. Apparently, the Dalai Lama does this.
According to Susan Vaughan, when we see/listen to optimists we perceive them to be people who inflate their own ‘worth’, fail to give credit to others when such credit is due, and fail to accept responsibility for their failures. And, optimists sustain their positive self-image by feeling good about being better than others.
Isn’t that just a bit surprising.
Regardless, we can use this to bolster an argument supporting realism…or at least an argument in favour of optimism tempered by realism.
Perhaps the above 2 ‘tests’ could be altered as follows…
Here are two ways to identify realistic-optimists:
- They enjoy and celebrate their successes but don’t reduce the role played by others or ignore the fact fortunate circumstances [or luck] also contribute to success [some of the time].
- They express appreciation for their good fortune…but keep their downward comparisons to themselves.
PS: here’s a link to
another thought about optimism-pessimism…from a prior blog.
More about P=2S+O and how to be more optimistic in future blogs…