People look on brighter side of life: study

Human brain “updates” people's beliefs when things turn out to be better than expected.

Written by Agencies | London | Published:October 10, 2011 11:44 am

Optimism is a happiness magnet,it’s often said. Now,a study has also found that people naturally look on the bright side of life.

Researchers at the University College London have carried out the study and found that the human brain is biased towards optimism and only “updates” people’s beliefs when things turn out to be better than expected.

For the study,volunteers were given a list of adverse events such as getting Alzheimer’s disease and being robbed and asked to estimate the likelihood. Actual probability was then given and they re-estimated.

The participants appeared far more likely to change their estimates when they were actually less likely to suffer an adverse event than they had believed,a media report said.

When a bad event was more likely than they had thought,they still tended to give the inaccurate estimate. Their brains also appeared weaker in tracking judgement errors when worse events were more likely,the findings revealed.

While optimism may be advantageous,the researchers have warned that unrealistic assessment of financial risk is seen as a cause of the credit crunch in 2008.

The findings have been published in the latest edition of the ‘Nature Neuroscience’ journal.

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