In your face, coastal states.
Clothing company Life is Good conducted a national survey to determine the optimism levels and related behaviors of 3,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 79, and the results showed that people living in the Rocky Mountain Region were more optimistic than the rest of the country. The information was self-reported.
On top of that, people who participate in outdoor activities that included hiking, fishing, traveling, running, walking and biking were more likely to be optimistic.
Other correlations: Men, people with one or two kids and dog owners were more likely to be optimistic compared to women, people with no kids and cat owners, respectively. People who participate in these activities are also likely to be optimistic: playing board games, crafting, cooking, meditating and watching live sports.
Tali Sharot, a professor of cognitive sciences at the University College of London, said it’s key to remember the difference between causation and correlation. For example, theoretically, exercise may make a person more optimistic. But the vice versa could be true: People are more likely to exercise because they are optimistic.
Sharot said scientists currently think optimism is based on both nature and nurture with genes and environments influencing a person.
Roughly 80 percent of the population is optimistic, she said, compared to 10 percent who are pessimistic. The other 10 percent is neither.
The optimists of the world tend to interpret positive events as something they caused, which is due to something inherently good about them. They then generalize that positive energy and send it to the rest of their life. If something bad happens, an optimistic person views it as temporary and not related to anything inherently wrong with themselves.
A pessimist, though, does the same but switched. If something bad happens, it’s their fault. If something good happens, it’s temporary and not related to them, she said.
Other takeaways from the survey:
- People with college or graduate degrees are more likely to be optimistic than those without.
- People with a household income below $25,000 are more likely to be pessimistic than those with higher household incomes.
- Both Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to be optimistic than Caucasians.
- 18-29 year-olds are slightly less likely to be optimistic when compared to older adults.
- Although 54 percent of people feel negative about the current state of the world, 86 percent are optimistic about the future.