Rose-Colored Words, but Gray Outcomes

The New York Times:

When all the words you hear about the economy are bullish, you may want to run in the other direction. This counterintuitive finding — that positive visions of the future precede downturns — appears to be the case both for people and the economy as a whole.

This bad news for unbridled optimism was laid out in a paper published in Psychological Science online in February. The study looked at the relationship between economic malaise and language in newspaper articles and presidential addresses. The finding was stark: Optimistic language was a predictor of poor performance.

“A cultural climate of positive thinking about the future, may have contributed to low economic achievement,” the article concludes.

Gabriele Oettingen, a psychology professor at N.Y.U. and a co-author of the paper in Psychological Science, said that when people have a fantasy, they tend to imagine that fulfilling it will be easy, and are thus unprepared to work. She also said their fantasies become a satisfying distraction, a warm feeling that takes the place of reaching the goal.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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