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Unrealistic optimism prompts risky behavior

Date:
November 17, 2009
Source:
SAGE Publications
Summary:
Unrealistic optimism about drinking behavior can lead to later alcohol-related problems, according to new research.

Unrealistic optimism about drinking behavior can lead to later alcohol-related problems, according to research published in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB), the official monthly journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Researchers interviewed 800 college students several times over the course of two years about whether their drinking resulted in hangovers, memory loss or trouble with police. They found that those who believed that they had a smaller chance than other students of having a drinking problem were actually the ones most likely to later experience problems.

Some research has suggested that unrealistic optimism is beneficial because it motivates people to take care of their health. The data in the PSPB study suggests the opposite.

"This is the first study to demonstrate unrealistic optimism at the individual level, in college student drinkers, about the likelihood of experiencing future problems with alcohol," write the authors Amanda J. Dillard, Amanda M. Midboe, and William M. P. Klein. "Future studies may provide insight into how to curb unrealistically optimistic perceptions and ultimately reduce risky health behaviors."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dillard et al. The Dark Side of Optimism: Unrealistic Optimism About Problems With Alcohol Predicts Subsequent Negative Event Experiences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2009; 35 (11): 1540 DOI: 10.1177/0146167209343124

Cite This Page:

SAGE Publications. "Unrealistic optimism prompts risky behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091117094941.htm>.
SAGE Publications. (2009, November 17). Unrealistic optimism prompts risky behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091117094941.htm
SAGE Publications. "Unrealistic optimism prompts risky behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091117094941.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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