It’s sort of fashion that one categorizes whole human race into two types. There are many crazy categorizations like ‘There are only two types of people in the world –people who like Sachin Tendulkar and people who don’t like cricket’. But there are many sane categorizations. One which I really want to talk about is ‘There are only two type of people in the world – optimists and pessimists’. I really liked it as this categorization is based on thinking approach unlike others. But then I came across a quote on Internet i.e. ‘They say in the Middle East a pessimist is simply an optimist with experience’ by Ehud Barak, Israeli Statesman. Even though the quote was region specific but it’s second part is really worth a thought.
Till now, I was considering optimists and pessimists are two Different types but the mentioned quote suggests that people do cross the side and that to in opposite direction. And the thing which makes them cross the road was EXPERIENCE. It does really make me think over this. Does experience compel someone to switch side from optimism to pessimism?
One can simply say that optimism is the side which is heavily promoted. Right from the school days, optimism is promoted as it is seen as foundation of courage. While doing any courageous act, one should understand what is possible and that’s where optimism got support. Self-help books, inspirational movies and inspirational videos on YouTube keep on injecting a dose of optimisms in people. And there is no problem with that. Many inventions or ideas which transformed the world are because of positive approach and optimism. Youth should be filled with optimists. But as per Ehud Barak, as they get experience of the real world, they switch the side.
Interestingly two psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger at Cornell University observed something which they called a cognitive bias among people. Their study showed that people mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. This is called as ‘Dunning Kruger Effect’. And Dunning Kruger Diagram possibly gives us the answer to the question with which we were started.
To make a connection between Dunning Kruger Effect and the quote, just take a case of a young boy who is surrounded by all positive thoughts and is an optimist, but unaware of real world hurdles. Because of the optimism, he might be aiming something big and presumes his path to success as painless. In most of the cases, such nascent mind might end up assessing its ability incorrectly. After facing real life problems, if the boy didn’t manage to reach desired goal, he will get disappointed. He might try again and again but if still he faces failure then slowly his confidence level will also go down with it. And eventually he might become a pessimist. Because a continuous disappointment will force him to became a pessimist. He will expect the worse so that he will never be disappointed.
Be an optimist or a pessimist, a person always think about future because of the dissatisfaction with present reality. Because of bloated optimism, people get into the mindset of Optimism Bias (As Tali Sharot, a professor of Cognitive neuroscience at UCL, call it so). The bias pushes one to keep irrational expectations. But one’s experience with failures and disappointments makes him become a pessimist. Experience does play a role in this……..