DUKE (US) — MBA graduates with an overall optimistic outlook spend less time and effort searching for jobs and receive offers more quickly, research shows.
Once they get the job, they’re even more likely to be promoted in the first two years than their pessimistic peers.
Researchers surveyed 232 MBA students about their relative dispositional optimism—a general belief that good things tend to happen more often than bad things. Their answers were correlated to their job-search outcomes. The findings have been published in a working paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
According to the researchers, optimists are more flexible in the way they handle difficult situations.
Beyond a brighter outlook, there are a number of reasons why optimists might outperform others in the job market.
For example, individuals who are articulate and personable may be more optimistic because they have learned to anticipate favorable outcomes when they interact with others. In other words, good things tend to happen to these people, which makes them more optimistic, which in turn perpetuates more good things occurring.
The researchers say they were careful to consider variables in their analysis.
“We included a special survey that measured how well-liked and outwardly charismatic these individuals were,” says David Robinson, a business professor at Duke University. “Optimists certainly appear more charismatic to their peers, and more likely to be destined for success. But these measures alone do not account for the findings. Optimism is more than charisma.”
Cade Massey of Yale University says there are other reasons optimists do well: “Optimists are more willing to disengage from unrealistic courses of action, and re-engage in more practical ones; they are more willing to adapt, and this seems to be part of the reason for their success.”
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