Pollyanna Syndrome (by: Sara Walker)

Unrealistic optimism is described as having an excessive (and even harmful) belief that all things will have positive outcomes, no matter what.  Meet Jessica: an extremely optimistic four year-old.   This video is entertaining, but there are plenty of adults who are actually like her.

Although it is good to be positive and optimistic, unrealistic optimism can be dangerous.  People who consistently binge drink at parties are being unrealistically optimistic in believing that they will survive the dangers of alcohol toxicity.  “It-couldn’t-happen-to-me” syndrome. In Jessica’s case, believing that she “can do anything good” or that she likes “anything” makes herself vulnerable to danger.  If she really likes anything, would she like to be kidnapped?  I don’t think so.  Would she like being in a car accident?  Probably not.  She doesn’t seem afraid of putting herself in a dangerous situation because she can “do anything.”  And that’s what  is risky about unrealistic optimism.

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