Every now and then, we all think negatively. In her lecture titled "The Power of Negative Thinking," Dr. Julie Norem spoke yesterday about the psychological effects of negative thinking.
The heart of Norem's philosophy is this: being optimistic does not necessarily help everyone deal with problem solving and stress.
"Just because it's not looking on the bright side, doesn't mean it's bad or non-constructive, and that's what this country doesn't get," said Professor of Psychology Barbara Held.
Norem, a professor of Psychology at Wellesley College, has been exploring two classifications of coping mechanisms: "strategic optimism" and "defensive pessimism" and their effects over a period of 20 years.
Despite a prevailing belief in American society that "looking on the bright side" will lead to positive outcomes, "[Norem's] work indicates that being optimistic and positive may not benefit everyone," an article in American Psychology Association explains.
The article—entitled "Positive psychology advances, with growing pains" and published in April 2011—goes on to explain that such types of positive thinking can in fact be detrimental to certain individuals: "people [Norem] calls 'Defensive Pessimists,' who deal with anxiety by thinking about everything that could go wrong. Her studies show that by processing the negative possibilities, defensive pessimists relieve their anxiety and work harder at their task to avoid those pitfalls."
Norem presented an abridged accumulation of her data and research yesterday at 4 p.m. in Druckenmiler 016.
-Compiled by Fiona Stavrou.