I’ve always said my husband is a pessimist; he says he is a realist. A couple years ago, I was reading a book which cited a study finding that optimists are more delusional than pessimists. Pessimists have more accurate perceptions of events.
I told my husband that meant we’ve both been right – being a realist and a pessimist are the same thing.
Reading the research, lab studies that tested the subject’s perception of the odds of winning a game, it seemed plausible.
Thinking about my husband and I, it seemed less so. Although in some things he is more realistic than I am, in others he is not. In some areas, I am much more perceptive and pragmatic than he is. In others, he is.
Was there a more perceptive and realistic world leader of his era?
Did he delude himself about the threat Hitler posed? No, he was one of the few voices warning of it for years before the world took notice.
Did he delude himself about the cost of war? No, blood, sweat, toil, and tears were his promise.
Optimism is not ignorant delusion. Often it is a pragmatic assessment of the present, choosing to see the best possible outcome, and working like a madman to achieve it.
That might not be an advantage in laboratory games of chance, but in life, I believe it is.
Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist?