Optimist vs Pessimist

Expertise is developed through hours of deliberate practise. One dimension is a challenging goal which relies on your nature of motivations. Who are you?

Optimist Pessimist
take more risks are more vigilant
explore more options more detail oriented
try something new? “Yes!” try something new? “Is it safe?”
“can do” attitude failure is not an option
e.g. developing software e.g. running data centers
promotion focus prevention focus
care about the presence and absence of gains worry about the presence and absence of losses
pursuing opportunities preventing failure
motivators are aspirations motivators are meeting obligations and fear of failure

Motivational challenges and behaviors to reach a goal are researched in the Regulatory Focus Theory by E. Tory Higgins (further reading “Beyond Pleasure and Pain“, American Psychologist, December 1977).

So which is better to reach your goals – promotion or prevention? Both work depending on the goal people like to achieve. Some people are more motivated by pursuing opportunities and others are more motivated by preventing failure.


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