Manipulating optimism: changing the contents of your glass

Manipulating optimism: changing the contents of your glass

Are you wondering whether you can change your glass from half empty to half full? Then let me help you. Personally, the half empty/full glass-dilemma has given me a headache since I was eight, because after answering that it’s obviously half empty, everyone started calling me a ‘sulky pessimist’. After searching its definition (‘someone who tends to see worst aspects of things’), I decided I wanted to become more optimistic, but, despite all my tries, I gave up after my parents told me this was impossible for someone born a pessimist.

However, this turned out to be a pessimistic view of my parents as well, because, according to Peters and colleagues, it is possible to become more optimistic during life. In their study, 44 psychology students who completed the Best-Possible Self (BPS) intervention, in which people are asked to think about what the best possible version of yourself looks like, were compared to 38 students who thought about a day in their everyday life. Both groups had to answer questionnaires on multiple topics, like whether they expect positive (optimism) or negative outcomes (pessimism) of events happening in the future. These questionnaires are answered before and after each intervention.

For both interventions they found that, after completing, students expected more positive outcomes of future events than before their intervention, but this increase was higher in the BPS group. In other words, it is definitely possible to change your glass from half empty to half full, simply by joining an optimism intervention!

Article that the blog is based on:

Peters, M. L., Flink, I. K., Boersma, K., & Linton, S. J. (2010). Manipulating optimism: Can imagining a best possible self be used to increase positive future expectancies?. The Journal of Positive Psychology5(3), 204-211.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *