The ups and downs of optimism and pessimism

Listen 47:51

Guests: Julie Norem, Emiliana Simon-Thomas

It’s hard to be an optimist these days. The synagogue shooting and the pipe bombs, the hate online and divisive politics, all the anxiety that people across the political spectrum feel around the mid-terms. In fact, a recent survey found the 69% of Americans were stressed about the country’s future. Pessimism seems to be overwhelming our nation these days, so we thought we’d take a look at the effect negative thinking has on our lives. Can we, should we, learn to adopt a more sunny outlook and at what price? This hour, we explore the science of optimism and pessimism – from the health benefits of positive thinking and the usefullness of defensive pessimism. Our guests are EMILIANA SIMON-THOMAS, science direct of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and JULIE NOREM, professor of psychology at Wellesley College.

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