The Importance of Being Optimistic The Importance of Being Optimistic
Social Innovation

The Importance of Being Optimistic

by Amanda M. Fairbanks

September 9, 2010

It turns out that optimism is good for all sorts of things, the job search included.

Stephen Dubner, over at the Freakonomics blog, asks whether it pays to be optimistic. And at least for MBA students looking for work, the answer is yes.

Business professors Ron Kaniel, Cade Massey, and David T. Robison are out with a working paper, which concludes

Dispositional optimism is a personality trait associated with individuals who believe, either rightly or wrongly, that in general good things tend to happen to them more often than bad things. Using a novel longitudinal data set that tracks the job search performance of MBA students, we show that dispositional optimists experience significantly better job search outcomes than pessimists with similar skills. During the job search process, they spend less effort searching and are offered jobs more quickly. They are choosier and are more likely to be promoted than others. Although we find optimists are more charismatic and are perceived by others to be more likely to succeed, these factors alone do not explain away the findings. Most of the effect of optimism on economic outcomes stems from the part that is not readily observed by one's peers.

Are you an optimist, a person who believes that things will generally work out for the best? While we're at it: Any tricks for the rest of us?

Photo (CC) by Flickr user erix!.

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The Importance of Being Optimistic