Does pessimism soften the blow of bad news?


Yes, but it’s not worth it:

Although negative expectations may have the benefit of softening the blow when a negative event occurs, they also have the cost of making people feel worse while they are waiting for that event to happen. Three studies suggest that the cost of negative expectations is greater than the benefit. In 2 laboratory experiments and a field study, people felt worse when they were expecting a negative than a positive event; but once the event occurred, their prior expectations had no measurable influence on how they felt. These results suggest that anticipating one’s troubles may be a poor strategy for maximizing positive affect.

Source: “Anticipating one’s troubles: The costs and benefits of negative expectations.” from the journal “Emotion”

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