Preparing oneself for the worst possible results does not serve any purpose, according to researchers, who contend that the disappointment in the end is the same for both categories of people. Margaret Marshall of Seattle Pacific University and Jonathon Brown of the University of Washington, Seattle, tested the technique of 'defensive pessimism' and reported their findings in the latest issue of the journal Cognition and Emotion.
The study suggests that a person's reaction to disappointment or failure is determined mainly by his general outlook with regard to life. Those who expect to succeed tend to have an optimistic stance in general, the researchers said. If they fall short of their goals, they are likely to look on the bright side and still think they have done reasonably well.
Conversely, those with low expectations tend to have a gloomy view of life and could be less mentally equipped to deal with disappointments. If they don't succeed, they take it to heart and tend to blame themselves, unlike the other group. It may be difficult for a person to cushion the blow of failure by trying to brighten their natural temperament, Brown said.
Based on his earlier research, he said the best way a person can deal with a setback is by writing it off as unimportant. 'People need to be strong enough to learn that failure is not bad,' he was quoted as saying.