If you play the lottery and it has never been you that won – I am sorry!
If you drive a car daily and never gotten into an accident – Good for you!
People tend to hold a certain expectation for their future. Some are rather optimistic, meaning they have a positive outlook, and others may be more pessimistic, having a rather negative outlook.
When most people think about optimists, they envision them as overly happy people that ignore all negative around them. Truth is some of them do – they are called unrealistic optimists. They believe that more positive and less negative things will happen to them in the future than to other people.
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Salgado & Bernstein investigated, whether individuals would rate their chances of getting COVID lower than the chances of either a close other or an acquaintance. The study was conducted in the USA during August 2020 and in Great Britain during January 2021. They found that people would rate their own chances and that of their close other lower than that of acquaintances of contracting COVID. Participants would also rate themselves more likely to buy and use masks and hand sanitizer than others. Their results showed that most people are unrealistically optimistic when it comes to the current pandemic. Unrealistic optimism about the likelihood of infection risks might influence people’s behavior, which allows the virus to spread further, as people behave according to their beliefs – namely they are less likely to contract COVID.
Salgado, S., & Berntsen, D. (2021). “It Won’t Happen to Us”: Unrealistic Optimism Affects COVID-19 Risk Assessments and Attitudes Regarding Protective Behaviour. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 10(3), 368-380.