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Kathryn Hoban

Legislative Aide - Michigan Senate, National Society of Collegiate Scholars

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Optimism and Pessimism: The Impact of Outlook on Outcome

Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist?
What do you think are the drawbacks and benefits of each?
To what extent do you think your outlook impacts your actions?
Tali Sharot talks about the blame that optimists and pessimists place on either themselves or other factors. To what extent do you blame internal or external factors regarding your success or failure?

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    May 16 2012: Do we have to blame something to be an optimist or pessimist?
    How about taking whatever happens as it is and move forward?

    Like how Tali Sharot described, it's about fine-tuning the estimation of expectations to a realistic level.
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      May 17 2012: My apologies, please let me clarify.

      I may have been wrong to use "blame", as it has a rather more accusatory tone than I wanted to convey. I based this question on two beliefs; first, that all outputs are the product of both internal and external inputs, and second, that all individuals strive for optimization. For instance, if you recieved a 12% on a test you had been studying for since the start of the semester, chances are there was an external problem. You knew the material, but maybe you marked down the wrong form on the Scantron and were graded for another test altogether. I don't believe that anyone would just accept that score and move forward. More likely, they would ask to have the test re-scored with the correct form, as an external factor negatively impacted their internal effort. While most situations do not have a "re-score" option through which an individual may immediately better their situation, recognizing past problems, whether in personal choice or situation, is an important part of learning from experience and avoiding the failures in the future.

      Therefore, I believe that rational individuals take themselves and their surroundings into account while trying to optimize their own standing, which is the basis of the question.
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        May 18 2012: I believe that we could be both rational and irrational at the same time.
        It's not an easy juggle however, once one gets the hang of it, it's pretty easy.

        As mentioned above, it's about fine-tuning these factors, internal, external or in-between.

        Porcupines hug for warmth, but they can't hug to closely, they would hurt themselves, or if they don't hug enough, they are unable to create enough warmth.

        Another example would be judging. Judge the behavior, not the person.
        Judge their techniques, executions, and not for how they are feeling at that moment.

        Back to expectations, one must know what part truly affects the outcome, like not attributing the day's non-success to waking up on the wrong side of the bed. If that's so, one must learn to be happy the moment they get out of bed.

        Whether one is Proactive & Reactive can almost be attributed by internal & external factors respectively.

        Being proactive or reactive could still lead to failures, however there's one fundamental difference.
        A reactive behavior would most probably lead to making the very same mistakes/failures over and over again. Whereas, a proactive behavior would achieve new mistakes/failures different from the previous, bringing him/her closer and closer to a success, or a string of successes.

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