Are We Born Optimistic? Or Is It a Coping Skill We Learn as Adults?

80% of adults are overly optimistic about life—where does that cognitive bias come from?

There's one brain bias that affects 80% of adults and it has a familiar name you may not expect: optimism. Not always thought of as a cognitive mechanism, the optimism bias leads people to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes and to underestimate the likelihood of negative outcomes. It can be hugely helpful in our social lives and in keeping us motivated even if the trade off is, at times, the denial of reality. So where does this cognitive bias come from? Are we born with it, or do we develop it as we grow? Developmental psychologist Lori Markson compiles research about how optimism works in babies and young kids, and how that may help us to understand why we adults are the way we are. This video was filmed at the Los Angeles Hope Festival, a collaboration between Big Think and Hope & Optimism.

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Calling Donald Trump a Two-Year-Old Is an Insult to Two-Year-Olds

Narcissists aren't born – they're made, says development psychologist Alison Gopnik. She takes issue with the popular notion that children need to unlearn brashness and learn civility, when neuroscience shows that it tends to work in the reverse.

Parents of a newborn baby no doubt look at the bundle in their arms and flash-forward to what their child might grow up to become. Will he or she be an economic genius like Warren Buffet? Or maybe an artistic visionary like David Bowie? What about their heart and mind – will they be happy and funny and kind? And then, somewhere on a lower rung of thought, there are all the fears you don’t let fully materialize: like will he or she grow up to hurt and spite others? What are the chances that they will take after that one sour, twisted relative in the family tree? Psychopaths and narcissists have parents too, some subterranean part of a parent's mind may worry.

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What Kids Need Most Isn't Parenting – It's Parents

Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik has done more than just 'think of the children', she wrote a book – and it rules favorably for free play and the end of scholastic parenting.

You can structure a child’s day so they’re learning and being nourished by lessons that will skill them up for life, but the moment you take a breather and clock off might just be the moment your child learns the most.

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“Parenting” Is the Most Important Job We’ll Ever Do – And Here’s How We’re Failing

The word parenting, as a verb, has only been around since 1958. Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik examines when caregiving became the art of hovering, and the pitfalls and anxiety of trying to shape children instead of raise them.

Like most things these days, parenting ain’t what it used to be. Even the word "parenting" is a relatively new verb, first appearing in 1958 and gaining mass popularity from the 1970s onwards. Today, Amazon stocks 60,000 titles on the subject.

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