An Optimism Bias Can Offset a Pessimistic World
Do we have proof? Yes, we do. Pessimism bias? Meet optimism bias. The optimism bias is the belief that things will turn out okay, in the end, no matter what. Even if we can’t change the future per se, we won’t feel as depressed between now and then. The neuroscientist Tali Sharot puts it this way: “We can't all be better than everyone else. But if we believe we're better... we're more likely to get that promotion... because we're more social, more interesting” (Sharot, 2012, para. 8).
She’s not the only one who thinks so. Other scientists have found that simply creating positive expectations about the future can alleviate the symptoms of major depressive disorder. The time between now and the future is a very long opportunity to fiddle with our expectations. If we expect the worst, our sympathetic nervous system takes a big toll on us. But if we expect the best, the time between now and then becomes a chance to foster neurotransmitters that make us feel pretty good. It’s called future-directed therapy.