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The Upside of Pessimism

The Upside of Pessimism
The theory of defensive pessimism suggests that imagining—and planning for—worst-case scenarios can be more effective than trying to think positively. I have pretty low expectations for this article. Oh sure, I spent a lot of time on it, and I personally think it’s a great read. But I’m kind of worried that you will hate it. Worse yet, I’m afraid you’ll hate me for writing it. You might take to Twitter and call me a featherbrained, elitist millennial. Or at least, that’s how I would start out thinking if I were prone to defensive pessimism, a phenomenon in which people imagine worst-case scenarios in order to manage their anxiety. This type of negativity might sound like apostasy by American standards. I recently spoke with Norem, a pioneer of the defensive pessimism theory. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows, and you can take a test to find out if you’re a defensive pessimist here. Olga Khazan: What is defensive pessimism? Khazan: How would I apply this in real life?

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/dont-think-positively/379993/

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