Optimism Bias | Teen Ink

Optimism Bias

May 15, 2013
By mcbossy SILVER, West Melbourne, Florida
mcbossy SILVER, West Melbourne, Florida
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

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The term “optimism” refers to the tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect a positive outcome. This way of thinking is reflected in many books, videos, and movies, along with being practiced throughout the globe, with some controversy about whether it truly ensures happiness or not. Optimism does, in fact, ensure happiness, as it is revealed in the web video “Tali Sharot: The Optimism Bias,” the book Anthem by Ayn Rand, and the movie Field of Dreams directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Looking on the bright side will give people the confidence to succeed, encourage them to try more things and be able to do more, and bring belief in good and hope which can lead to happiness.

Being optimistic about oneself will give them confidence. Without confidence, it is hard to succeed in many aspects of your life. If someone is optimistic about what they can do, they will try more things and trying new things usually creates happiness. When a person is optimistic about what they can do, they are able to do more since they are more self-assured. In “Tali Sharot: The Optimism Bias,” examples are provided about how optimism can help to succeed more in life. In a study by Margaret Marshall and John Brown, the psychologists studied students with high expectations (optimists) and low expectations (pessimists). They found that “when people with high expectations succeed, they attribute that success to their own traits. When they failed, it wasn't because they were dumb, but because the exam just happened to be unfair. Next time they will do better. People with low expectations do the opposite. So when they failed it was because they were dumb, and when they succeeded it was because the exam just happened to be really easy. Next time reality would catch up with them. So they felt worse” (Sharot 13). This supports the idea that optimism leads to success, which ultimately leads to and ensures happiness.

When people are optimistic about what they can do, they will be able to do more. Optimism is interconnected with open-mindedness, as an optimist would think of most events having a positive outcome. In Anthem by Ayn Rand, Equality provides many examples of how being optimistic about life leads to a happy ending. One example is when Equality discovers a hidden room and discovers electricity. Since Equality was optimistic about what searching through the forbidden new place could find, they took the risk and discovered the incredible force of electricity. This innovation had potential to be of great conveniences and could ultimately ensure more happiness. Another example from Anthem is when they escape to find a new life. They were obviously being extremely optimistic about their survival, since escaping from their utopian community would normally ensure death in a normal citizen’s eyes. “No single one can possess greater wisdom than the many Scholars who are elected by all men for their wisdom. Yet we can” (Rand 37). This is an example of optimism and the confidence they have to do whatever they want. They did what they wanted and ended up getting an abundant amount of happiness.

Optimism ensures happiness because with optimism comes believing in the good and having hope. In the movie Field of Dreams, directed by Phil Alden Robinson, the main storyline contains a huge amount of hope. Ray, who hears voices that encourage him to make a baseball field in his backyard, goes on a journey to make the field even though it is against the society’s wishes. He has hope that something good will come out of the making, and eventually good is what comes out which ensures him with much happiness. Hope also helps them get the results that want because Ray is persistent. Ray turns to Terence Mann for help. Even though he is uninterested, Ray persists because he has hope that they will get to make the field. They end up making it, and Ray’s optimism pays off. Because of the character’s hopes that the field would get finished, it did and they were all happy. A quote from the movie that reflected optimism was “But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come” (Robinson).

Confidence, trying new things, and hope are all factors that correlate with optimism. When people use optimism, they ensure joy for themselves because of these three reasons. Throughout the sources “Tali Sharot: The Optimism Bias,” Anthem, and Field of Dreams, examples of optimism and how they result in contentment are provided. Through being optimistic as opposed to realistic or pessimistic, mankind can be ensured with a sense of happiness.


The author's comments:
I watched a video this year on optimism and really made me think about how it works.

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