The dystopians are out of step: humans are naturally optimistic

Edward Willett @ 26-05-2009

Democritus_by_Agostino_Carracci At least, that’s according to a new study from the University of Kansas and Gallup presented over the weekend at the annual convention of the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco (via ScienceDaily):

Data from the Gallup World Poll drove the findings, with adults in more than 140 countries providing a representative sample of 95 percent of the world’s population. The sample included more than 150,000 adults.

Eighty-nine percent of individuals worldwide expect the next five years to be as good or better than their current life, and 95 percent of individuals expected their life in five years to be as good or better than their life was five years ago.

“These results provide compelling evidence that optimism is a universal phenomenon,” said Matthew Gallagher, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas and lead researcher of the study.

At the country level, optimism is highest in Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, and New Zealand and lowest in Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti and Bulgaria. The United States ranks number 10 on the list of optimistic countries.

Demographic factors (age and household income) appear to have only modest effects on individual levels of optimism.

Now, has anyone actually conducted a scientific poll of science fiction writers to see how they stack up by comparison?

(Image: Democritus by Agostino Carracci, from Wikimedia Commons.)

[tags]public opinion, polling, optimism, dystopia, pessimism,psychology[/tags]

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “The dystopians are out of step: humans are naturally optimistic”

  1. Jetse says:

    “Now, has anyone actually conducted a scientific poll of science fiction writers to see how they stack up by comparison?”

    My totally unscientific gut feeling says that about 95% of SF writers and about 98% of SF fandom is either pessimistic, or too afraid to say they’re really optimistic.

    Hence, the SF writers or SF fandom group represents a completely unrepresentative sample of the actual population (gee: no surprise here).

    Maybe, just maybe, to gain a broader readership, SF might consider writing and publishing more optimistic stories (which are *different* from total utopias in the same way that beer, wine or whisky are different from 100%% pure ethanol)?

    But that would be totally crazy, right? Like some naive would-be editor who thinks — due to his interaction with people from around the world at the training centre of the company he works for by day — that most people are more interested in optimistic fiction, and then tries to edit a complete anthology of optimistic, near future SF? Perish the thought!

    😉