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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2010 Feb;139(1):16-31. doi: 10.1037/a0018143.

Counteracting obstacles with optimistic predictions.

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  • 1McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, USA. ying.zhang@mccombs.utexas.edu


This research tested for counteractive optimism: a self-control strategy of generating optimistic predictions of future goal attainment in order to overcome anticipated obstacles in goal pursuit. In support of the counteractive optimism model, participants in 5 studies predicted better performance, more time invested in goal activities, and lower health risks when they anticipated high (vs. low) obstacles in pursuing their goals. These predictions in turn motivated pursuing the goals. These studies further revealed that emphasizing accuracy in predictions reverses the effect of anticipated obstacles on predictions and negatively affects the process of overcoming obstacles in goal pursuit.

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