Are you an optimist or pessimist or realist?

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How has Extreme Poverty in World Population changed in past 20 years
Doubled 50%  50%  [ 5 ]
Halved 40%  40%  [ 4 ]
Stayed the Same 10%  10%  [ 1 ]
Total votes : 10

jimmy m
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28 Nov 2018, 1:53 pm

Consider the following question: Has the percentage of the world population that lives in extreme poverty almost doubled, almost halved or stayed the same over the past 20 years?

Studies consistently find that people in developed societies tend to be pessimistic about their country and the world but optimistic about their own lives. The psychologist Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania suggests a reason for this: We think we are in control of our own fortunes but not those of the wider society.

This perception is fueled by the following:

Bad news is more sudden than good news, which is usually gradual. Therefore bad news is more newsworthy. Battles, bombings, accidents, murders, storms, floods, scandals and disasters of all kinds tend to dominate the news. “If it bleeds, it leads,” as they used to say in the newspaper business. By contrast, the gradual reduction in poverty in the world rarely makes a sudden splash. As Rosling put it, “In the media the ‘newsworthy’ events exaggerate the unusual and put the focus on swift changes.”

Plane crashes have been getting steadily scarcer, but each one now receives vastly more coverage.

This is part of what psychologists call the “availability bias,” a quirk of human cognition first noticed by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in the 1970s. People vastly overestimate the frequency of crime, because crime disproportionately dominates the news. But random violence makes the news because it is rare, whereas routine kindness doesn’t make the news because it is so common.

Bad news usually matters; good news may not. In the prehistoric past, it made more sense to worry about risks—it might help you avoid getting killed by a lion—than to celebrate success. Perhaps this is why people have a “negativity bias.” In a 2014 paper, researchers at McGill University examined which news stories their subjects chose to read for what they thought was an eye-tracking experiment. It turns out that even when people say they want more good news, they are more interested in bad news: “Regardless of what participants say, they exhibit a preference for negative news content,” concluded the authors Mark Trussler and Stuart Soroka.

People think in relative not absolute terms. What matters is how well you are doing relative to other people, because that’s what determined success in the competition for resources (and mates) in the stone age. Being told that others are doing well is therefore a form of bad news. When circumstances get better, people take those improvements for granted and reset their expectations.

Such relativizing behavior affects even our most intimate relationships. An ingenious 2016 study by David Buss and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin found that “participants lower in mate value than their partners were generally satisfied regardless of the pool of potential mates; participants higher in mate value than their partners became increasingly dissatisfied with their relationships as better alternative partners became available.” Ouch.

As the world improves, people expand their definition of bad news. This recent finding by the Harvard psychologists David Levari and Daniel Gilbert, known as “prevalence-induced concept change,” suggests that the rarer something gets, the more broadly we redefine the concept. They found in an experiment that the rarer they made blue dots, the more likely people were to call purple dots “blue,” and the rarer they made threatening faces, the more likely people were to describe a face as threatening. “From low-level perception of color to higher-level judgments of ethics,” they write, “there is a robust tendency for perceptual and judgmental standards to ‘creep’ when they ought not to.”

Source: Why Is It So Cool to Be Gloomy?

(The correct answer to the original question is "Extreme poverty has been cut almost in half.")



envirozentinel
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28 Nov 2018, 2:01 pm

(This doesn't really belong in News&Current Events.)


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TW1ZTY
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28 Nov 2018, 2:08 pm

It depends on my mood, or if my medication is working right. :P


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29 Nov 2018, 10:11 am

I would say I'm a realist, generally optimistic, but not to a foolish degree. I do tend to get emotional when I'm stressed, but I work my way through.



lostonearth35
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29 Nov 2018, 11:45 am

Poverty might be halved, but everything else that's awful in the world has at least tripled or quadrupled.

I read last night that because of climate change in Canada, diseases are going to be more rampant, like Lyme disease which was virtually unheard of not that log ago, and is now more common than ever, and more people will be suffering from depression and PTSD from the disasters that hit us every two minutes. Of course the Dump and his fellow climate change deniers still have their heads firmly planted up their own butts.

Last night we had and are still having yet another heavy rainstorm which made it hard for me to fall asleep. Sometimes it really felt like Armegeddon, with the wind roaring and the apartment feeling like it's shaking. My social worker couldn't make it over last week because she was sick, and she probably won't be coming today in this weather. I hate life.



SaveFerris
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29 Nov 2018, 1:45 pm

I'm a realist , my anxiety is a pessimist.


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29 Nov 2018, 2:10 pm

I think I'm a realist but I seem pessimistic because I don't expect things to go well in my life due to a long history of things going badly.


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29 Nov 2018, 2:24 pm

poverty is halved, but that doesn't mean anything because inequality is only getting worse.


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29 Nov 2018, 2:27 pm

Realist. A "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best" type. A "Show me the money" type. An "Evidence, please?" type. A "Just the facts, ma'am" type. A type who believes that "An enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy, no more and no less".



Raleigh
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29 Nov 2018, 2:33 pm

Depends on the day/mood/hyper/depression.
I'm not a great believer in reality.


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29 Nov 2018, 5:00 pm

what is considered 'poverty' has changed so it is hard to say


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30 Nov 2018, 9:23 am

i'm a pessoptimist except or when i'm an optopessimist. :mrgreen: seriously, the "definition of poverty" has not materially changed for billions on this planet who deal with chronic hunger and thirst and general want, just as their ancestors have.



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30 Nov 2018, 10:35 am

That seeming contradiction that folks tend to be pessimistic about society but optimistic about themselves is not really a contradiction. That combination is pretty much a necessary survival instinct: you have to at least be aware that things in general could get worse (the paying attention to bad news instinct), but at the same time you have to have a moderate degree of optimism to be successful in life. Optimists start businesses and make things happen. Not pessimists.

If by poverty you mean "not being able to earn a living wage in America and having to work for minimum", then that kind of poverty (in this country) I would guess, has increased.

But if by "extreme poverty" you mean vultures threatening to eat your children because of famine on the edge of the Sahara then …

Well fifty years ago the world had three and half billion people, and maybe ten percent lived in destitution of above kind (extreme by third world standards). But since then much of the world has industrialized including both of the population giants of India and China. So today I would guess that maybe only five percent of the seven billion people on the planet today are that bad off. Five percent of seven billion instead of ten percent of three and half billion. So the rate of extreme poverty has gone down, but the absolute number of folks that bad off I would guess is about the same.



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30 Nov 2018, 10:46 am

Yes.


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30 Nov 2018, 10:53 am

reality is inherently pessimistic.


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