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Defensive Pessimism

Defensive pessimism is:

  • A cognitive strategy that uses low expectations and mental rehearsal of negative outcomes to prepare for an anxiety-producing event.
  • A strategy that allows for people to turn anxiety into action. (By planning for the worst-case-scenario, that scenario can often be averterted.)
  • Very useful for many individuals.
  • A topic that has been extensively researched and written about by Nancy Cantor and Julie Norem, both holding PhDs in Psychology.

    Defensive pessimism is not:

  • Inherently depressing.
  • Entirely at odds with the positive psychology movement.
  • A one-size-fits-all solution.