Monday, August 28, 2017

Positive Thinking and Party Loyalty

It is difficult to find situations where, once you have started a task, there is a negative correlation between positive attitude and likelihood of success. (I know some people out there are starting to form a quibble , But bear with me for a little while.) You can make a similar argument with political success and party loyalty – – the group that sticks together does better in most cases.

This raises an interesting question: if these behaviors are so overwhelmingly advantageous, why do we not see a correspondingly high preference for them? Why are attitudes so negative so often? Why are groups so hard to hold together even when they serve the interests of all of the participants?

At least part of the answer, I think, lies in the hidden fallacy of the first paragraph. The statements are technically true, but they are framed in such a way as to leave out a major problem. Both scenarios started in media res with narrowly defined success. We began with situations and agendas set, but optimism will affect the situation you find yourself in and party loyalty will affect the agendas you commit to. By treating success and failure as a binary, we ignored the variability in the costs and kinds of failure. If two climbers decide to ascend a mountain, the positive thinker is more likely to reach the top, but the negative thinker is more likely to stop before risking a fatal fall.

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