Pandemic Positivity: Study Indicates That “Realistic Optimists” Are Coping Best With The Covid Lockdown

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A study conducted by PsychTests.com reveals that optimism will help people adapt to the pandemic with a greater sense of ease, but it must be tempered with a realistic attitude.

Positivity, with a healthy dose of common sense, is the ideal approach to adversity.

Adopting a positive, yet realistic attitude toward the pandemic has proven to be the best approach.

In the end, our attitude is a choice: We can stay positive and take everything in stride, or we can complain, get upset, and assume that it’s the end of the world.

There hasn’t been much to smile about in the last few months. A health crisis, economic troubles, a mandatory lockdown and the ensuing protests have left many people struggling to find the silver lining. It’s during times like these, however, that a positive attitude can make all the difference - just not the rose-colored, Pollyanna kind, suggest researchers at PsychTests. A recent study analyzing the state of mind of a sample of the population reveals that those who have maintained a positive, yet realistic attitude throughout the lockdown are coping much better than their pessimistic AND “happy-go-lucky” counterparts.

Analyzing data from 2,571 people who took PsychTests’ Pandemic Resilience Test, researchers divided the sample into three groups: Extreme Optimists, Realistic Optimists, and Pessimists. They then assessed how well each group is coping with the pandemic fallout. Here is what the data revealed:

MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES

  • 15% of Realistic Optimists are struggling with major or severe stress, compared to 24% of Extreme Optimists and 68% of Pessimists.
  • 28% of Realistic Optimists have found themselves ruminating more, compared to 30% of Extreme Optimists and 83% of Pessimists.
  • 24% of Realistic Optimists are experiencing anxiety or panic, compared to 32% of Extreme Optimists and 76% of Pessimists.
  • 13% of Realistic Optimists are paranoid about getting sick, or experiencing somatization/hypochondria, compared to 23% of Extreme Optimists and 62% of Pessimists.
  • 25% of Realistic Optimists are experiencing profound sadness, compared to 36% of Extreme Optimists and 77% of Pessimists.

ATTITUDE TOWARDS COVID-19

  • 74% of Realistic Optimists believe that if they take precautions, like washing their hands and keeping a distance, they can keep themselves safe, compared to 72% of Extreme Optimists and 28% of Pessimists.
  • 1% of Realistic Optimists believe that there is no reason for an infected person to self-isolate if they are asymptomatic, compared to 52% of Extreme Optimists and 11% of Pessimists. Along the same lines, 1% of Realistic Optimists believe that there is no reason for an infected person to self-isolate if they are young and healthy, compared to 57% of Extreme Optimists and 14% of Pessimists.
  • 84% of Realistic Optimists believe that health is far more valuable than wealth, especially at this time, compared to 62% of Extreme Optimists and 67% of Pessimists.
  • 6% of Realistic Optimists believe that hoarding food, supplies, and medicine is the only way to survive, compared to 31% of Extreme Optimists and 20% of Pessimists.
  • 60% of Realistic Optimists believe that information about the virus that is posted on social media should be taken with “a grain of salt,” compared to 42% of Extreme Optimists and 45% of Pessimists.

DEALING WITH THE FALLOUT OF THE PANDEMIC

  • 61% of Realistic Optimists and Extreme Optimists believe that the economy will pick up as soon as the pandemic is over, compared to 21% of Pessimists.
  • 82% of Realistic Optimists believe that the current circumstances will teach us how to deal with pandemics in the future, compared to 57% of Extreme Optimists and 41% of Pessimists.
  • 74% of Realistic Optimists said that they have been doing their best to help friends and family, and to be neighborly, compared to 57% of Extreme Optimists and 49% of Pessimists.
  • 2% of Realistic Optimists believe this pandemic is a sign of the end of the world, and that humanity is doomed, compared to 23% of Extreme Optimists and 32% of Pessimists.

COPING STRATEGIES

  • 60% of Realistic Optimists are taking time to relax and unwind, compared to 58% of Extreme Optimists and 25% of Pessimists.
  • 78% of Realistic Optimists are revising their routines, making adjustments, and said they are adapting the best they can given the circumstances, compared to 67% of Extreme Optimists and 23% of Pessimists.
  • 64% of Realistic Optimists are using humor to get through this difficult time, compared to 59% of Extreme Optimists and 20% of Pessimists.
  • 71% of Realistic Optimists said that they striving to keep the current circumstances in perspective, compared to 56% of Extreme Optimists and 13% of Pessimists.
  • 61% of Realistic Optimists said that they are focusing on the good in their life instead of the bad, compared to 63% of Extreme Optimists and 6% of Pessimists.
  • 73% of Realistic Optimists said that they regularly remind themselves that things will eventually get better, compared to 68% of Extreme Optimists and 11% of Pessimists.
  • 63% of Realistic Optimists said that in spite of everything that has happened, they are making it a point to look for the silver lining, compared to 55% of Extreme Optimists and 5% of Pessimists.
  • 71% of Realistic Optimists have an outlet to relieve their stress, such as exercise, mediation, mindfulness, or talking things out, compared to 64% of Extreme Optimists and 29% of Pessimists.
  • 54% of Realistic Optimists seek out advice from someone who can help, such as a therapist, financial advisor, or other form of support, compared to 49% of Extreme Optimists and 31% of Pessimists.

“A great deal of research has been conducted on the benefits of an optimistic attitude. Positivity is good for both your mental and physical health,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “However, it’s important to know how to differentiate between different types of optimism. Extreme optimists, although cheerful and hopeful, tend to be more reckless, and don’t use their common sense as often as they should. They take more risks, and believe that thinking positive will keep them safe. Realistic optimists are critical thinkers. They hope for the best but also plan and prepare for the worst. They maintain a positive attitude but are rational as well, and won’t pretend everything is fine when it’s not. Realistic optimists also know how to keep circumstances in perspective, how to manage stress, won’t allow themselves to fall into the trap of rumination and worry, and recognize that at some point, things will get better.”

“This is the ideal attitude during a crisis,” suggests Dr. Jerabek. “Some may argue that pessimists are better prepared for the worst because they expect it. Our study, as many others, says otherwise. Right now, the best approach to the pandemic is to adapt to what the circumstances require, and to recognize that as difficult as self-isolation and the economic downturn have been, the only way forward is through it. Things are already starting to improve. In the end, our attitude is a choice: We can stay positive and take everything in stride, or we can complain, get upset, and assume that it’s the end of the world.”

To schedule an interview with Dr. Jerabek, go here: https://calendly.com/ilonajerabek/30-min-meeting-with-dr-ilona-jerabek (30-min interview)

The free Pandemic Resilience Test can be taken from this link: https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/4106

This test is also available free of charge to all ARCH Profile clients (employers/companies), coaches, and therapists) who can offer it as a screening and personal development tool to employees and clients. Businesses can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery here: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
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 ARCHProfile.com).

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Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D.
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