It’s not just you — we're all pessimistic about the future, says new study


You're feeling pretty gloomy, aren't you?

You hated 2016, you probably won't like 2017 all that much either and, survey says you're pessimistic about the upcoming presidential transition, too.

The silver lining here, if you want one, is that you're not alone.

All of us, optimists and pessimists alike, assume the worst and mentally brace for bad news, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality.

Psychology professor Kate Sweeny and graduate student Angelica Falkenstein, both from the University of California, Riverside, wanted to find out if there was a difference in how people of various dispositions approached potentially bad news. The researchers believed those with a "happy-go-lucky" attitude would be less prone to anxiety as the "decisive moment draws near."


Turns out, the researchers' hunch was wrong. We're all a bunch of glass-half-empty worrywarts, based on nine studies the researchers conducted, which included examining law students as they waited for their bar results and other controlled lab scenarios.

"Counter to intuition, optimists were not immune to feeling a rise in pessimism at the moment of truth," Sweeny said. "In fact, not a single study showed a difference between optimists and pessimists in their tendency to brace for the worst."

Does pessimism have benefits?

In a divided America, pessimism seems to be the one thing we can all agree on. According to the UCR study, this may not be such a bad thing. Anticipating the worst, the researchers say, can shield us from disappointment.

"Fortunately, it seems that even the most ardent optimists can temper their positive outlook when it pays to do so," Sweeny said.