Do you feel lucky?


Is Britain a nation of optimists or pessimists – a new report may surprise you – but that obviously depends on your point of view!

The report presents the first findings of research conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) into the nature of optimism in 21st century Britain.

A few choice snippets from the Executive Summary …

Britain is an optimistic nation – 21% of people see themselves as being generally optimistic with a further 54% being generally optimistic but also feeling pessimistic about some things

British optimism – a large proportion of poll respondents also agreed that Britishness was characterised by a pessimistic ‘mustn’t grumble’ attitude and  … to play down achievements and to engage in rather self-deprecating behaviours.

Optimists attract – Over 50% preferred the company of optimists compared with a mere 3% who were more attracted to pessimists

The role of the media – 53% of poll participants agreeing with the statement ‘I think that TV and newspapers encourage me to have a more negative outlook on life’.

The SIRC Optimism Spectrum

  • Realist (24%): I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but simply realistic about the good and bad things in my life
  • Concrete optimist (19%): I am optimistic, but I am realistic about the possible outcomes of events
  • Cautious optimist (18%): I am optimistic, but I am careful not to be complacent about my good fortune
  • Situational optimist (15%): My levels of optimism/pessimism change from situation to situation
  • Fatalist (6%): I accept that essentially I can’t change what’s going to happen to me, whether it’s good or bad
  • Individualist (3%): I believe that essentially I have control over what’s going to happen to me, whether it’s good or bad
  • Pessimist (3%): I am generally pessimistic, whatever the circumstances
  • Contagious optimist (2%): I am always optimistic, and my optimism spreads to those around me
  • Unabashed optimist (2%): I am always very optimistic, whatever the circumstances

But why the picture of dice at the top of the page? Well the research was commissioned by the National Lottery – perhaps they are trying to see if we would like to play the lottery more.

So to undertake a wholly unscientific survey – would you like to sample more academic Internet resources about optimism or pessimism?

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on Social Perception and Cognition, the National Lottery and the Sociology of Emotions.

Image credit: Dice Another Day from topher76 on Flickr under a CC license.