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Children are full of optimism, but those rose-tinted glasses are fading-Reduced learning from negative outcomes drives hyperoptimism in children

Habicht, J; Bowler, A; Moses-Payne, ME; Hauser, TU; (2021) Children are full of optimism, but those rose-tinted glasses are fading-Reduced learning from negative outcomes drives hyperoptimism in children. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 10.1037/xge0001138. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Believing that good things will happen in life is essential to maintain motivation and achieve highly ambitious goals. This optimism bias, the overestimation of positive outcomes, may be particularly important during childhood when motivation must be maintained in the face of negative outcomes. In a learning task, we have thus studied the mechanisms underlying the development of optimism bias. Investigating children (8 to 9 year-olds), early (12 to 13 year-olds), and late adolescents (16 to 17 year-olds), we find a consistent optimism bias across age groups. However, children were particularly hyperoptimistic, with the optimism bias decreasing with age. Using computational modeling, we show that this was driven by a reduced learning from worse-than-expected outcomes, and this reduced learning explains why children are hyperoptimistic. Our findings thus show that insensitivity to bad outcomes in childhood helps to prevent taking on an overly realistic perspective and maintain motivation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Type: Article
Title: Children are full of optimism, but those rose-tinted glasses are fading-Reduced learning from negative outcomes drives hyperoptimism in children
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/xge0001138
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0001138
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. This manuscript is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10141339
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