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NextGen Magazine


Poll Finds Optimists Have More Savings Than Pessimists

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
May 13, 2019

A recent survey of 2,000 people found that optimists are more likely than pessimists to have savings, both in expectation of a large purchase and for unexpected emergencies, according to New York Magazine. Survey subjects were first evaluated with the Life Orientation Test, an optimism scale developed by the University of Miami’s psychology department, and then asked about their personal finances. What the researchers found was that 90 percent of optimists had put money aside for a major purchase versus 70 percent of pessimists, and that two-thirds of optimists had started an emergency fund versus fewer than half of pessimists. 

The results could sound counterintuitive. After all, one might think that pessimists, more likely to believe disaster could strike, would be the ones with more savings, while optimists, believing themselves to be safe, would be the ones without. However, the study turns this expectation around. Pessimists, it would seem, don't save as much because they don't have as much faith in their ability to affect their fates, and with this in mind, why bother? Optimists, conversely, are more likely to believe that their actions matter and that their goals are achievable, and so they are more likely to take steps to accomplish these goals. The researchers pointed out, however, that the most successful optimists are moderate in their positive outlooks, noting that many people have been undone by the transition from simple optimism to outright hubris.