pessimist: recent publications

Science Explains How Pessimism Increases Anxiety

thoughts and moods directly influence reality. Having a cynical personality can lead to inaccurate predictions and cloud judgment.

That’s the premise of a recent study investigating how student expectations of exam grades can reveal their overall outlook on life.“Whether we are conscious of it or not, we’re always forming expectations,” said Aaron Heller, senior author in the study and an associate professor in the Department of Psychology. “Whenever our expectations turned out to be wrong, they become a learning signal that we use to form better expectations in the future.”Pessimistic people tend to have low expectations of themselves and others to avoid being let down.

However, this usually sets them up for mental health problems like anxiety in the future.The study authors wrote, “Individuals with elevated negative emotionality, a personality trait linked to the development of anxiety disorders, displayed a global pessimism and learning differences that impeded accurate expectations and predicted future anxiety symptoms.”Below, we’ll discuss the study in greater detail and provide some coping mechanisms for anxiety.Earlier prediction error (PE) studies performed in a laboratory used simulations involving small financial rewards. However, since the tasks were relatively low-risk, researchers wanted to know if PE learning would occur with higher-stakes tasks.

They decided to investigate students’ expectations about their exam grades in a chemistry class at the University of Miami.The researchers gathered data from 625 college students who agreed to share their grades for four tests taken during the semester. Following each exam, the students sent predictions about their scores to Heller and his colleagues, ranging from

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