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Science Has Finally Explained Why Accountants Are Good With Numbers: Because They’re Cynical and Negative

illustration of heads with negative and positive thoughts

This explains so much. Researchers at the University of Bath have found that excessive optimism is actually associated with lower cognitive skills such as verbal fluency, fluid reasoning, numerical reasoning, and memory. People with higher cognitive ability (aka smarties) tend to be both more realistic and pessimistic in their expectations about the future.

All else being equal, those highest on cognitive ability experience a 22% (53.2%) increase in the probability of realism (pessimism) and a 34.8% reduction in optimism compared with those lowest on cognitive ability. This suggests that the negative consequences of an excessively optimistic mindset may, in part, be a side product of the true driver, low cognitive ability.

Looking on the (B)right Side of Life: Cognitive Ability and Miscalibrated Financial Expectations

So basically if you think everything is hunky dory all the time, you’re dumb.

“Forecasting the future with accuracy is difficult and for that reason we night expect those with low cognitive ability to make more errors in judgments, both pessimistic and optimistic. But the results are clear: low cognitive ability leads to more self-flattering biases – people essentially deluding themselves to a degree.” said Dr Chris Dawson of the University’s School of Management. We salute you, Dr Dawson.

Here’s a video from Neuroscience News if you’re short on verbal cognitive ability today because you naively thought it was going to be a good day when you woke up this morning.

Related research:

Go forth and be negative, friends.