Some further research today on the benefits of being an optimist, courtesy of researchers at Duke and Yale, who followed a group of MBA students searching for jobs.
As if it isn’t enough to have a generally sunny disposition, these lucky optimistic individuals also spend less effort searching for jobs, but are offered jobs more quickly. The authors look into whether this might be explained by the fact that naturally talented people have rationally higher expectations – but dismiss this hypothesis, finding little link between ability and optimism. They also run a “beauty contest” – getting students to rate each other on charisma and likelihood of becoming a CEO – these ratings don’t turn out to be good predictors of future success (although perhaps this says more about other students finding it difficult to predict how employers will view their peers).
Even more annoyingly, in a cruel twist of fate for those pessimists out there, optimists don’t even care as much about jobs, rating them as less important than other things like having friends. Yet more proof that you can want something a bit too much.
The link to the paper is here: http://papers.nber.org/papers/w16328