Graeme Newell

Pessimism Bias

Pessimism bias happens when our feelings about the future distorts our perception of the facts. It actually has two parts:

-An overestimation of the likelihood of bad things happening.

-An underestimation of the likelihood of good things happening.

Our overworked brain often doesn’t have enough information on how the future will play out. So we tend to fall back on assessing how we FEEL about that future event, then rely on those feelings to estimate our chances of success. If we’re anxious or frightened, then pessimism will tend to win out over reality.

How can we overcome pessimism bias? The key is to set aside gloomy perseveration and seek out a more objective evaluation of the probabilities.

Move the evaluation out of your ruminating mind and reassess the data using other parts of your brain, for example, your verbal, visual, or auditory brain. 

These new tools reframe the problem and force you to see it in new, more objective ways.

-Write down all the pluses & minuses, then assign each a probability.

-Seek out the opinions of others. Just talking it through will bring more clarity.

-Graph out the options on a whiteboard. The act of drawing things out and seeing it on the wall will diminish your reliance on emotion.