Why we make bad decisions

So are you the sort of person who generally sees the glass as half-full? Do you try to look on the bright side? Do you generally have a fairly positive outlook on life? Do you think that the cosmos is working in your favor?

If so, recent studies suggest you are delusional.

According to Sam Sommers, author of “Situations Matter: Understanding how context transforms your world”  and an associate professor at Tufts University, the people who suffer from the Eeyore Syndrome (always dragging around through life and dragging people down) have a much more realistic view of themselves than those Joel Osteen wannabes.

A whole lot of us suffer from self-deception, Sommers says.

In other words, we think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

We also think more highly of others than the evidence would support.

The practice of self-deception has become the standard operating procedure that we now define as normal mental health function in this nation.

Of course it was normal and accepted practices to sterilize people at one time, too, which only goes to show how deceptive we can be when trying to justify our wrongheadedness.

Says Sommers: The lengths we go to in order to feel good about ourselves are often considerable.

I think he means the denials.

We only have to look at our own history as a nation to know the truth of that statement.

Sommers also says that depressed people actually have the more realistic view of themselves.

Research also suggests that people with really high self-esteem (ie delusional) get cranky when given negative feedback.

So it appears that the wisdom of Paul comes into play again: Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. Roman 12:3

There’s danger in not being honest with ourselves. Delusional people rarely make good choices or good policy.

As one former stump speaker put it: “America was not built by wishful thinking. It was built by realists, and it will not be saved by guess work and self-deception. It will only be saved by hard work and facing the facts.” Adlai Stevenson

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  • Pcalhenry

    Uh oh. I’m back to being Eeyore starting today. xo

  • Jane

    Nice quote from Adlai. I’m generally an optimist myself, but heard an interesting quote the other day about the glass thing – whether it’s half full or half empty, it needs a refill.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Love that, Jane. I’m going to reuse that one a lot.

  • JAZ

    That’s awesome. Next time I’m at home feeling sad and lonely while the beautiful people dance, I’ll remember that I “have a more realistic sense of myself”.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias


  • I am reminded of a Robbie Burns line that my mother often quoted – (altho she used the original dialect)
    O would some Power the gift He gives us
    To see ourselves as others see us!
    It would from many a blunder free us,
    And foolish notion:
    What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
    And even devotion!