Wednesday, 11 November 2015

What is optimism?

In this post Anneli Jefferson, research fellow at the University of Birmingham, announces a workshop on optimism in February 2016.

The Costs and Benefits of Unrealistic Optimism project looks at the nature of the optimism bias and at the consequences unwarranted optimism has for individuals and groups. It is a one year project funded by the Hope and Optimism funding initiative.

While there is a large body of research in psychology on the optimism bias, there is not much philosophical engagement with the topic. We (Lisa Bortolotti and Anneli Jefferson) are exploring the following questions: Is unrealistic optimism irrational? Can optimistically biased beliefs be said to be untrue? Why do we have these beliefs? What consequences do they have? Do they carry benefits in terms of resilience and coping? Do they aid or undermine our attempts to act morally? Do they leave us unprepared for harsh reality?

Some of these topics will be explored in an interdisciplinary workshop that will take place at Senate House in London on February 25th and 26th, 2016. We will be hearing from psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers. On the first day, the focus will be on the nature and causes of optimism, with contributions that focus on brain processes underlying optimism, the link between motivation and optimism and evolutionary accounts of unrealistic optimism. On the second day, we will be looking at the consequences of optimism, trying to tease out when these are beneficial and when detrimental. Realistically or not, we are convinced that this will be a great event well worth attending!

If you would like to attend this event, please go to the University of Birmingham online shop to register. 

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