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Benefits of Defensive Pessimism

When comparing defensive pessimists to anxious people who do not practice defensive pessimism, the defensive pessimists show these benefits:

  • Their self-esteem and satisfaction increase over time.
  • They perform better academically
  • They form more supportive friendship networks,
  • They make more progress in their personal goals.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

Defensive pessimism is a strategy used by people who are anxious about an upcoming event. They set unrealistically low expectations before going into a situation and take steps to avoid poor performance. Defensive pessimism involves over-preparation.

For example, someone preparing for a job interview might convince themselves that the interview is going to be a disaster. The anxiety of this likelihood helps to prepare them for the job interview. The result is that they do exceptionally well.

Self-handicapping is where an individual will create obstacles for themselves before an ability-evaluating event. If it turned out poorly, the obstacles became an excuse or explanation for the failure. If it turned out positive, the obstacles became conquered hurdles.

Self-handicapping involves expecting the worst and self-sabotage.

  • Research found that defensive pessimists will do best when they can think through possible negative outcomes.
  • Strategic optimists will do best when they avoid thinking about possible negative outcomes.

Pessimism can have positive effects. If you are an anxious person, try both strategies and see what works best for you.

  • Pessimists only expect bad things to happen. And this leads to increased anxiety and decreased perceived goal importance.
  • Defensive pessimists tend to reflect about, or plan for, their performance. This leads to increased perceived goal importance, increased levels of effort, hope and personal goal initiative.

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RELATED IDEAS

While anticipating and taking preventive action towards an infectious disease, or taking the necessary steps to get better, the coping strategy of a defensive pessimist far surpasses an optimist.

The pessimist is able to steer through the problem by anticipating future pitfalls and taking the required action, while an optimist might ignore or overlook the same.

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IDEAS

We all have either an internal or an external locus of control. This cognitive mechanism provides us with confidence that we can change the elements of our lives.

Having the locus of control on the outside makes it subject to every twist and turn of our lives, making us feel helpless.

To get the best out of a positive and negative mindset, visualize the best possible outcome while planning for the worst-case scenario.