“If ignorance is bliss, then optimism must be euphoria. Thanks to a mechanism called the optimism bias, humans are pretty much incapable of applying basic risk statistics to their own lives. We know smoking causes cancer, but we don’t expect it to happen to us. We find a lump on our body and we tell ourselves it’s probably nothing.
Although the term optimism bias was first used in the 1980’s, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman was most likely the one who made it part of general vocabulary. In his 2011 book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Kahneman notes that “people tend to be overly optimistic about their relative standing on any activity in which they do moderately well.” The optimism bias generates the illusion of control: the idea that we are in control of our lives. Bad things only happen to others. […]
According to the “depressive realism” proposition, people who suffer from (moderate) depression actually have a more accurate perception of reality. They are less affected by the illusion of control and therefore better capable of estimating their chances in life. In other words, people with depression are not pessimists, they are realists.”
Leave it to Science: Should We Be Optimistic?