While optimism is oft-derided as child’s play, new research believes that our peak years of hope lie elsewhere.
As our assumption goes, optimism is the opiate of the young. They haven’t had their lives, dreams and/or hearts crushed, so not knowing that everything is grim, is everything. Right? Well, no.
According to a new study, the year we’re most subject to the pangs of optimism, is every year.
This new data believes that we continue to believe as we grow older. Of the 1,169 participants asked, researchers discovered that optimism was actually its lowest during early adulthood and highest around one’s 55th birthday.
“There seems to be a popular perception that people become less optimistic with age, that their maturity leads them to be better calibrated to the ups and downs of life,” study co-author Ted Schwaba of the University of California at Davis told American publication PsyPost.
“But it seems, in this sample and a few others, that the lifespan story of optimism is actually one of gradual increase throughout adulthood.”
The study also discovered that the negativities of life didn’t dint one’s optimism, with the researchers making the contention that negativity in one’s life didn’t manifest in a pessimistic attitude. The researchers stated, “…additionally, increases in autonomy and self-regulation ability, which allow a person to more easily execute their desired behaviours and reach desired outcomes, may lead to increases in optimism with age.”
It’s clear that optimism is a malleable construct, influenced by events of the past, but this is only the fourth study that has investigated how it develops.
While the take-home lesson may well be that there’s more to look forward to (or at least we think so), we still know diddly when it comes to how optimism changes with age, or further external factors. On your bike, pop-psyche.