The Realistic Optimist – New PsychTests’ Study Reveals Why Optimism With A Dose Of Practicality Can Make People Happy

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Newly released research by reveals that content, resilient, and satisfied people are not necessarily extreme optimists.

Those who are content with their life and able to cope with hardship are actually moderate rather than extreme optimists.

Moderate optimists hope for the best, but are also realistic about their chances for failure or disappointment.

You don’t have to be a Pollyanna to be happy.

Extreme optimists are either scorned for their bliss or mocked for their naiveté. New research from PsychTests, however, indicates that people do not need to be a total optimist in order to be happy.

Using data collected from their Happiness/Optimism Test, their statistics reveal a rather surprising revelation: Those who are happiest, most satisfied with their relationships, most resilient in the face of hardship and stress, and who feel the healthiest didn’t score in the highest range on optimism.

Researchers at PsychTests took a sample of 16,342 people who took their test and asked them questions about, among other things, their level of satisfaction with different aspects of their life, their ability to deal with stress, and their willingness to trust people.

Here’s what they discovered:
(Note: The scores that appear below range from 0 to 100. Scoring on the higher end reflects an optimistic outlook, while scoring on the lower end reflects a pessimistic outlook).

Satisfaction with friendships

  •     Those who are extremely satisfied with their friendships scored 66 on optimism.
  •     Those who are extremely dissatisfied scored 40.

Satisfaction with family relationships:

  •     Those who are extremely satisfied with their family relationships scored 64 on optimism.
  •     Those who are extremely dissatisfied scored 43.

When faced with a crisis

  •     Those who are extremely confident that things will turn out fine scored 68 on optimism.
  •     Those who are not at all confident scored 36.

Ability to deal with stress

  •     Those who are very good at dealing with stress scored 66 on optimism.
  •     Those who deal with stress very poorly scored 39.

Difficulty trusting others

  •     Those who have difficulty trusting others scored 49 on optimism.
  •     Those who do not have difficulty trusting others scored 67.

Physical health

  •     Those who rated their health as excellent scored 63 on optimism.
  •     Those who rated their health as very poor scored 42.

“What we discovered in our analysis is that you don’t have to be a Pollyanna to be happy, which is very much in line with Dr. Martin E. Seligman’s concept of ‘flexible optimism’,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests.

“The people in our sample who are happy, satisfied, and resilient are not in denial; they don’t ignore potential consequences or risks - but they also don’t dwell on them. They expect the best outcome, but prepare themselves just in case things don’t turn out as well as they expected them to. In risky situations or situations with a possibility of failure, they plan and prepare accordingly rather than simply assuming that everything will turn out fine. They don’t expect the world to always be ‘sunshine and lollipops’; they just enjoy those great moments when they happen, and prepare themselves, mentally and practically, for those days when it could get cloudy.”

“Extreme optimists, on the other hand, may underestimate the need to plan ahead and be resourceful. This places them at risk of being blind-sided by the unexpected, which can be a very rude awakening. Pessimists anticipate the worst, which may temper disappointment, yet when something good happens to them, they have difficulty enjoying it because they tell themselves that any form of happiness is fleeting. Clearly, the ideal mindset is in the middle.”

Want to assess your level of optimism? Go to

Professional users of this assessment (therapists, life coaches and counselors) can request a free demo of this or any other tests from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery:

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook:

About is a subsidiary of PsychTests AIM Inc. is a site that creates an interactive venue for self-exploration with a healthy dose of fun. The site offers a full range of professional-quality, scientifically validated psychological assessments that empower people to grow and reach their real potential through insightful feedback and detailed, custom-tailored analysis.

PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
PsychTests AIM Inc.
+1 514-745-3189 Ext: 112
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