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6 Types of Pessimism

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Pessimism is a tendency to concentrate on the negative aspects of things such as risks, issues and faults. The following are illustrative examples.

Defensive Pessimism

While pessimism is often portrayed as a personality trait, it can also be a purposeful strategy. For example, defensive pessimism is the process of reviewing a strategy, decision, design, plan, state, action or outcome as critically as possible in order to identify issues and risk. This may be coupled with extremely optimistic processes such as freely brainstorming ideas without restraint. This allows for brave ideas to surface and to be hardened through a process of critical validation.

Risk Aversion

Risk aversion is a low risk tolerance or a tendency to reach high estimates for risk probability and impact. This is associated with either a conservative or a pessimistic viewpoint or approach. For example, a pessimist may be unlikely to invest in brash startup companies that make brave predictions of the future as they may see many risks to such plans.

Negativity Bias

A tendency to seek or focus on negative information. For example, seeing people's faults above their character strengths and charms.

Rosy Retrospection

Rosy retrospection is a tendency to view the past as better than you perceived it at the time. This is associated with the common pessimistic view that things are always getting worse.

Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is a preference for stability such that you resist any changes perceived as a threat to the status quo.

Defeatism

Defeatism is when pessimism becomes a problem such that it interferes with performance. For example, an employee who is disinterested, low energy and unproductive because they feel that failure is inevitable. This may obstruct the work of others and bring down the morale of an entire team.
Overview: Pessimism
Type
Definition
A tendency to concentrate on the negative aspects of things such as risks, issues and faults.
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