Imagining a Rosy Future: The Psychology of Optimism

Authored by: William M. P. Klein , Laura E. Zajac

Handbook of Imagination and Mental Simulation

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  September  2012

Print ISBN: 9781841698878
eBook ISBN: 9780203809846
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678103

10.4324/9780203809846.ch21

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Abstract

One of the prevailing themes in this volume is that people's mental simulations regarding future events are associated with a fascinating and complex array of biological, neurological, psychological, and social processes. How people think about the future holds important consequences for decision making, productivity, and mental and physical health. To what extent does it matter whether these views of the future are tinged with optimism? If optimism is an important facet of how people think about the future, it is essential to determine how we should best define optimism, as different definitions may lead to strikingly different conclusions. It also seems essential to understand the mechanisms that underlie optimism (however optimism is defined), as well as to understand the extent to which optimism about the future influences the chances of obtaining the very outcomes about which people are optimistic.

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