An optimistic president portends economic disaster.

By Seriously Science | February 12, 2014 7:00 am
Photo: flickr/BlatantWorld.com

Photo: flickr/BlatantWorld.com

The abstract for this paper starts out fairly depressing — apparently, “Previous research has shown that positive thinking, in the form of fantasies about an idealized future, predicts low effort and poor performance.” And it doesn’t get much better. Here, the researchers hypothesized that positive thinking (in this case, by newspapers and presidents) might also have a negative impact on the economy. To test this, they analyzed historical documents, and did indeed find correlations: for example, “the more presidential inaugural addresses contained positive thinking about the future, the more the gross domestic product and the employment rate declined in the presidents’ subsequent tenures.” If only Eeyore could be president…

Positive Thinking About the Future in Newspaper Reports and Presidential Addresses Predicts Economic Downturn.

“Previous research has shown that positive thinking, in the form of fantasies about an idealized future, predicts low effort and poor performance. In the studies reported here, we used computerized content analysis of historical documents to investigate the relation between positive thinking about the future and economic development. During the financial crisis from 2007 to 2009, the more weekly newspaper articles in the economy page of USA Today contained positive thinking about the future, the more the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined in the subsequent week and 1 month later. In addition, between the New Deal era and the present time, the more presidential inaugural addresses contained positive thinking about the future, the more the gross domestic product and the employment rate declined in the presidents’ subsequent tenures. These counterintuitive findings may help reveal the psychological processes that contribute to an economic crisis.”

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  • Jeanie Valentine

    The newspapers were using positive thinking to keep the public from making a run on the stock market and hoarding or saving money because if the public did that the economy would take a dive. The economy was already on a dive trend but the facts were being hidden from the people.

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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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