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Pessimism linked to family background

Pessimism rooted in socioeconomic background

india Updated: Jul 20, 2006 11:42 IST

Ever wonder what makes a person an optimist and another a pessimist? Well, a new research nails down the answer to the socioeconomic background an individual grows up in.

The group of researchers led by Kati Heinonen, PhD at the Department of Psychology at University of Helsinki found that there is a correlation between adult pessimism and childhood in a low socioeconomic status (SES) family.

They found that children who come from a less privileged background was more likely to turn into a pessimist, and that persons of high SES had a more optimistic outlook on life.                                                                    

Children who come from a less privileged background was more likely to turn into a pessimist, and that persons of high SES had a more optimistic outlook on life, reveals a UK study

The researchers also noted that even moving upwards in adulthood from a low SES during childhood did little to improve optimism levels in people, and that they still tend to remain pessimists.                                                            

The inverse was also found to be true, for people from a high SES childhood who moved downwards in socioeconomic status were more optimistic than those who remained in low SES.

"Children from the higher SES classes who are subsequently downwardly mobile may have learned successful coping strategies during childhood and consequently developed a sense of mastery and control that protected them in adulthood from the adverse effects of lower SES, whereas children from lower SES backgrounds who are subsequently upwardly mobile may not have had the opportunities to develop those psychological resources, and thus are not able to benefit as much as possible from the later success experiences," concludes the study's lead author.

The study is published in the recent issue of the Journal of Personality.