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Why does it seem easier to believe a pessimist than an optimist when it comes to world issues?

When it comes to receiving information from an "expert" claiming that things are not as good as they should be, why do most people believe them rather than seek out opposing views?

VotesAnswer
12Because...
4I don't agree but I don't know why.
2They don't because...
1I agree but I don't know why.
1Contrary to the masses...other.


UserComment
cerealkiller
posted 4-Dec-2012 5:57pm  
Because these days there is nothing to be optimistic about. The Middle East is in turmoil, the butthole in the White House wants to increase our taxes (thanks to everyone who voted this bozo back in office), get rid of guns, and essentially be a dictator. The economy sucks and will get much worse, regardless of what Obummer sez. So yeah, I tend to believe Glenn Beck and his doom & gloom much more that anything the bozo says.
LindaH Bronze Star Survey Creator
posted 4-Dec-2012 7:06pm  
People are pessimists in general. Even when it comes to things happening in your own city or in front of your face. I think it's a fear thing. People feel more prepared for the worst if they assume it is happening.
dab
posted 4-Dec-2012 9:26pm  
Because pessimists are more likely right.
bill Survey Central Gold Subscriber Gold Star Survey Creator
posted 5-Dec-2012 7:26am  
This is going to sound pessimistic but I think pessimism has been selected for over time in the evolution of humans. In other words, over thousands of years people who are pessimistic have managed to survive long enough to have children and thus pass on their traits (i.e. pessimism). On the other hand, the optimists were mostly eaten by saber-toothed tigers before they made it to sexual maturity.
Lysannus
posted 5-Dec-2012 8:57am  
There is nothing optimistic out there anymore.
LindaH Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to bill) posted 5-Dec-2012 9:24am  
 * laughing out loud * "oh what a cute little kitty..."
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
posted 5-Dec-2012 11:23am  
I don't think that's the case. I think people mostly believe what they want to believe, and whether it's optimistic or pessimistic depends on the person's temperament and on what the particular issue is.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to bill) posted 5-Dec-2012 11:26am  
> over thousands of years people who are pessimistic have managed to
> survive long enough to have children and thus pass on their traits (i.e. pessimism).

I think having children is one of the most optimistic things humans do.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
posted 5-Dec-2012 11:31am  
OMG, you all seriously accept the premise of this question? If everyone were truly pessimistic, I think civilization would have died out long ago. Caution and pessimism are not the same thing.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to cerealkiller) posted 5-Dec-2012 11:32am  
> Because these days there is nothing to be optimistic about. The Middle
> East is in turmoil, the butthole in the White House wants to increase
> our taxes (thanks to everyone who voted this bozo back in office),
> get rid of guns, and essentially be a dictator. The economy sucks
> and will get much worse, regardless of what Obummer sez. So yeah,
> I tend to believe Glenn Beck and his doom & gloom much more that anything
> the bozo says.

You have become a parody of yourself.
LindaH Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 5-Dec-2012 12:03pm  
In uncertainty, I think most people operate on the idea that the worst outcome is the most likely. There are people who don't operate that way, but I think they are in the minority. I could be wrong, but this is just based on what I have seen in people.
bill Survey Central Gold Subscriber Gold Star Survey Creator
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 5-Dec-2012 12:53pm  
Good point, though that seems like a fairly modern point of view. Still, saber-toothed tigers are extinct.
bill Survey Central Gold Subscriber Gold Star Survey Creator
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 5-Dec-2012 1:00pm  
I did have a mild form of pessimism in mind when I responded. I almost qualified what I was saying but was trying to be brief. Obviously, there's a fair amount of optimism mixed in with it as well. The explanation (e.g. "...things are not as good as they should be...") seemed to imply a mild form of pessimism. Just semantics, I guess. I do see that the dictionary defines it much harsher than I was thinking. Though Wikipedia's definition seems milder.
LJD Survey Qualifier
posted 5-Dec-2012 4:12pm  
The reason why is we are living in the end times...I know we are headed for turbulent times. The serpent seed is alive, doing their dirty deeds.
cloudhugger Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 5-Dec-2012 11:38pm  
I had to ask because I truley don't know. If someone says the 'end of times' I say hooray because this crap needs to die so us optimists can bring in the new world. Or if some opinionated negative nancy starts saying there is a going to be a depression, I believe that if everyone disagreed, than there wouldn't be a depression. I think everyone, if they didn't buy into doom and gloom would do what they could to prevent such a thing. Just when things are getting better, the news says "things are getting better" and then the next thing you know the whole place falls apart. I don't understand why people buy into all this negative stuff.
LindaH Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to cloudhugger) posted 5-Dec-2012 11:55pm  
"Or if some opinionated negative nancy starts saying there is a going to be a depression, I believe that if everyone disagreed, than there wouldn't be a depression." <----- this.

There is something to the notion that if everyone gets scared, they start hoarding money and they stop spending. When they stop spending, places close. People get laid off and downward it goes. People who are still employed and have more secure jobs might get a little scared but they benefit everyone else if they keep spending money.
cloudhugger Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to LindaH) posted 6-Dec-2012 9:15am  
THANK YOU!
So why does everyone like to be in that scared spot. Why is it easier for people to buy into fear rather than run around town screaming "we will not be destroyed by the enemy!"?
LindaH Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to cloudhugger) posted 6-Dec-2012 9:27am  
I don't think they like to be there. They are easily spooked.
cloudhugger Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to LindaH) posted 6-Dec-2012 9:46am  
Oh, Ok. I guess the real question is on a deeper level,
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to bill) posted 6-Dec-2012 11:00am  
Looking at it from an evolutionary point of view is pretty modern, too.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to LindaH, bill, cloudhugger) posted 6-Dec-2012 11:15am  
Studies have shown that conservatives tend to have a more negative and liberals a more positive outlook on the world--that is, conservatives are more pessimistic and liberals are more optimistic. Given that we're pretty evenly divided between liberals and conservatives in the US at least, if not globally, I'd guess that optimism is actually about as common as pessimism. But then, I'm an optimist...
bill Survey Central Gold Subscriber Gold Star Survey Creator
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 6-Dec-2012 12:49pm  
Are you trying to tell us you're pregnant?

Isn't it the Left that's so pessimistic about climate change? Honestly, that's the issue I had in mind when I read this survey. Climate "experts" claiming that things are not as good as they should be... But, I think they are correct. Maybe it's just on my mind because I recently read that we've failed to act fast enough and the polar ice caps will melt and that spells a lot of tough times in the future.
cloudhugger Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 6-Dec-2012 6:54pm  
Makes sense. Like I mentioned earlier, the optimists don't have squeeky wheels. The pessismists do. I guess conervatives have to blame someone for not oiling their axles, and the liberals find a way to take care of it before it's broke.
I don't think I could have added more irony if I tried.
southernyankee
posted 6-Dec-2012 9:00pm  
Probably because evolution favors pessimism. Also, negative world events get more media coverage than nonevents so it seems like the pessimists are right more often than not.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to bill) posted 7-Dec-2012 11:14am  
It's true that liberals are more ready to accept that climate change is real, but I think they are especially eager to do so because they also believe that we need to act to stop it--they believe something can be done about it, which is optimistic.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to cloudhugger) posted 7-Dec-2012 11:16am  
Or maybe optimists believe the wheel can be fixed, and pessimists don't. I think optimists and liberals complain plenty, but about different aspects of things than pessimists or conservatives do.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to LindaH) posted 7-Dec-2012 11:19am  
> There is something to the notion that if everyone gets scared, they
> start hoarding money and they stop spending. When they stop spending,
> places close. People get laid off and downward it goes. People who
> are still employed and have more secure jobs might get a little scared
> but they benefit everyone else if they keep spending money.

And there you have your argument for stimulus spending. John Maynard Keynes couldn't have said it better.
Nitroeddy
posted 9-Dec-2012 8:06am  
I'm a pessimist...
Kristal_Rose
posted 10-Dec-2012 2:31am  
Because history has proven that a lot more can go suddenly bad, than can go suddenly good.

Also, if we're talking about governments, big business and such, they are always going to let us imagine things are going well until proven otherwise, rather than the other way around.
No president in my recollection has ever covered up how well things were going. Anyone with a pessimistic view has a greater chance of being closer to the truth.

On the other hand, optimists are never given a fair chance.
Kristal_Rose
(reply to LindaH, Enheduanna) posted 10-Dec-2012 2:45am  
But in circumstances where things would go well if everyone were an optimist, and poorly if everyone were a pessimist, and people have a 50/50 guess on where it's going, they would prefer to be defensively prepared and cut their losses, rather than leave themselves open to greater tragedy on the gambling hope of greater bounty. Also, if it does seem 50/50 without human intervention, but relies on human attitude, people are more inclined to bet their neighbors will take the pessimistic route.

Sadly, look at all the instances where group entertainment never occurs because it would require energy committment from everyone, but no one wants to initiate putting out that energy if they fear no one else will. Even christmas choirs turn sour because of this.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Kristal_Rose) posted 10-Dec-2012 10:46am  
> But in circumstances where things would go well if everyone were an
> optimist, and poorly if everyone were a pessimist, and people have
> a 50/50 guess on where it's going, they would prefer to be defensively
> prepared and cut their losses, rather than leave themselves open to
> greater tragedy on the gambling hope of greater bounty.

I don't think that's true. Some people might, but I don't think the whole group necessarily will.


> Also, if it does seem 50/50 without human intervention, but relies on human attitude,
> people are more inclined to bet their neighbors will take the pessimistic
> route.

?? I don't know what you mean.

> Sadly, look at all the instances where group entertainment never occurs
> because it would require energy committment from everyone, but no
> one wants to initiate putting out that energy if they fear no one
> else will. Even christmas choirs turn sour because of this.

How is that the same as optimism versus pessimism? Sounds like inability to get along well with others. Also, look at all the Christmas choirs that do succeed.
Kristal_Rose
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 12-Dec-2012 11:16am  
Most people don't gamble unless the odds are in their favor. That makes sense, as although most people wouldn't mind gaining more, few can afford to lose more.

>> Also, if it does seem 50/50 without human intervention, but relies on human attitude,
>> people are more inclined to bet their neighbors will take the pessimistic route.
> ?? I don't know what you mean.

I mean that if you were to gamble on your neighbors being risky or conservative, the odds are with conservative.

>> Sadly, look at all the instances where group entertainment never occurs because it would require energy committment from everyone, but no
>> one wants to initiate putting out that energy if they fear no one else will. Even christmas choirs turn sour because of this.
>How is that the same as optimism versus pessimism? Sounds like inability to get along well with others. Also, look at all the Christmas choirs that do succeed.

It's not the quite same as optimism vs. pessimism, but similar. I'm speaking purely of people who do wish to get along well with others. I'm just saying there are frequently situations which would go well if everyone chipped in, but people are nervous or embarrassed about putting themselves in the spot light, and want others to go first. When everyone wants someone else to step forward first, nothing productive will occur, even if everyone hoped it would.

People standing around watching street muggings without intervening are another example of this. If it was commonly understood that a majority of people would intervene, few would fear intervening, but since they don't know this for sure, it's a risk to be the only person who might.
LindaH Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to Kristal_Rose) posted 12-Dec-2012 5:29pm  
What about the people who don't intervene because they figure other people will do it. Just like people who want to spend a little to help get the economy moving, but figure that's best left up to people who have more money.
Kristal_Rose
(reply to LindaH) posted 13-Dec-2012 1:05am  
Well there's that too. You're not helping make my point.
LindaH Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to Kristal_Rose) posted 13-Dec-2012 9:14am  
You are saying that it takes the actions of the optimists to jump start everything, but there just aren't enough of them to counter the pessimism of the other people?
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Kristal_Rose) posted 13-Dec-2012 10:54am  
I don't think betting that your neighbors will be more conservative or more liberal is the issue. But if you mean that people might have more pessimistic expectations of their neighbors, studies like this one suggest the opposite.
Kristal_Rose
(reply to LindaH) posted 13-Dec-2012 8:26pm  
Yep, more or less.

Also, optimists may be optimistic about plan A, opposite plan B, or the virtue of sticking with the status quo until it improves. Pessimists will always stick with the status quo unless that is threatened and has become risky as well. Pessimists take the defensive track, because they perceive it's bad out there.
Kristal_Rose
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 13-Dec-2012 9:26pm  
41%x.8 + 35%x.5 + 9%x0 + 16%x1.0 = 66% chance of a person being trusted. About what I'd expect, and not terribly promising in my opinion. Being trustyworthy, and being trusted to likely be a proactive contributer though are two different things. If the odds of being that are 25% amongst those you trust at all, it's a 17% likelihood, and yet my premise is that no one will step forward unless they can count on at least a 50% likelihood, if not more just for insurance sake.

In dense LA I felt my average neighbor felt their neighbors were neutrally disinterested, or possibly candidates for friendship, with a few bad seeds thrown in - and don't care either way. In my suburban WA neighborhood, I get the feeling that everyone is watching each other like the KGB, talks with their neighbors less, and cares what they do more. In LA a person might spontaneously strike up a friendship with anyone. Up here I sense that no one trusts anyone unless they have been around awhile and proven themselves to not cause trouble.

I trust 99% of my neighbors to not be a threat against me. This is too far short of 100% in my opinion. Any distrust is distrust. I don't really have any expectation that any of them would step out of their way to assist me in an emergency, more than occurs with rubber-neckers during street muggings.

Some entity meticulously sifted through my garbage bin. Possibly this was a random spot search, nationally triggered by online profiling, or the activity of ambitious recycling police, even though I am already OCD about by recycling efforts. My suspicion however is that I have been singled out by neighbors for being TG, going barefoot, and living in a home without owning a car, and thus flagged with some local security entity. I don't look or act like the rest of them, and I get the feeling that that matters here.

The cold war was about pessimism, and that's really more the angle I was getting at. If a nation can incinerate you, it doesn't matter if you believe they are on average as kind and trusting as you and your own neighbors. You want an impossible 100% assurance.

Do you recall what SC was like in it's early days? I took a stand in reaching out to others, posting my real name, address, and phone number, and even backed that up with partially censored scans of my drivers license and soc-sec card - to change the paradigm of distrust and anonymity here.

More specifically, in regards to optimism, I'm suggesting that no one expects even people they trust to be generous.
A society in which cars and front yard garden space were deprivatized would be more bountiful for everyone on average, but no one would be first to sign up for that because they will presume the worst case scenario that they would be taken advantage of without reaping the benefits.

I do think people will become more neighborly, and hopefully reach early 1970's levels of trust and cooperation again, now that it's becoming more apparent in the public mainstream that commercialism has become isolating.
LindaH Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to Kristal_Rose) posted 14-Dec-2012 11:31pm  
A good percentage of people who dream of (or achieve) riches have in mind - bigger houses, taller fences, longer driveways, and a circle of friends based on status rather than proximity.
Kristal_Rose
(reply to LindaH) posted 15-Dec-2012 2:33am  
Mobility is one reason people are less neighborly. People lived and worked at the same place for 20 years. Now they move and switch jobs every year and a half. If all your neighbors do that, there's no keeping up.

I have a feeling mine will be here for years though. People just keep to themselves more here.
cloudhugger Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Kristal_Rose) posted 16-Dec-2012 1:24pm  
> Most people don't gamble unless the odds
> are in their favor. That makes sense, as
> although most people wouldn't mind gaining
> more, few can afford to lose more.

That is a good answer to the survey question.  * smile *

> I mean that if you were to gamble on your
> neighbors being risky or conservative, the
> odds are with conservative.
Sad answer, but it makes sense.

Gomezy3k
posted 17-Dec-2012 8:47pm  
Because things usually suck and then get worse...
Dino
posted 20-Dec-2012 8:25am  
We're used to bad news, I guess.
JessicaWoman99 Bronze Star Survey Creator Survey Qualifier
posted 4-Sep-2013 4:59pm  
It is because I am watching the 700 Club Pat Robertson I get all my information from him
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