If you plan, then you can: How reflection helps defensive pessimists pursue their goals

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Abstract

This research examines how the two propensities that underlie defensive pessimism (pessimism and reflection) operate independently to influence the defensive pessimistic process. It investigates the hypothesis that the propensity to reflect, or plan, counteracts the detrimental effects of pessimism by encouraging not only planning, but also the pursuit of those plans. Consistent with these predictions, two studies revealed that the propensity to reflect helped defensive pessimists pursue their plans by (a) increasing goal importance, (b) promoting effort, (c) raising initial expectations, and (d) buffering the anticipated sting of failure. Pessimism hindered performance by increasing anxiety and lowering expectations. Thus, the propensity to reflect counteracts pessimism by not only promoting planning, but also processes that help the pursuit of those plans.

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