Pessimists

How Optimists and Pessimists Can Get Along

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How often do conflicts occur in your enterprise because someone proposed ill-considered or insufficiently thought-out ideas? What about because someone opposed innovative, out-of-the-box ideas?

If you have either problem, you might be plagued by two very common cognitive biases: the optimism bias or the pessimism bias. The optimism bias describes the many people who tend to make overly positive assessments of future risks and rewards, while the pessimism bias refers to those who make excessively negative assessments. These mental blindspots are two out of myriad dangerous judgment errors that result from how our brains are wired. It’s what scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics like myself call cognitive biases.

These problems plagued a quickly growing healthcare startup in the Northeast, which experienced a great deal of internal turmoil. The optimistically minded people on the team generated lots of great new ideas,

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