What is unrealistic optimism?

Anneli Jefferson, Lisa Bortolotti, Bojana Kuzmanovic

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33 Citations (Scopus)
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Here we consider the nature of unrealistic optimism and other related positive illusions. We are interested in whether cognitive states that are unrealistically optimistic are belief states, whether they are false, and whether they are epistemically irrational. We also ask to what extent unrealistically optimistic cognitive states are fixed. Based on the classic and recent empirical literature on unrealistic optimism, we offer some preliminary answers to these questions, thereby laying the foundations for answering further questions about unrealistic optimism, such as whether it has biological, psychological, or epistemic benefits.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Early online date1 Nov 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Nov 2016


  • optimism bias
  • Positive illusions
  • Unrealistic optimism
  • Belief update
  • Irrationality


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