Brief Report

The Optimism Bias: Is It Adaptive In Academic Settings?

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 22, issue 3, 2012 , pages: 415–417
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2012.10820547
Author(s): Caryl OchseUniversity of South Africa,


This study investigated whether optimism was adaptive or maladaptive in an academic context. Participants were 715 psychology students with a large open and distance education university in South Africa (age range 20 to 61, average age 31 years, women = 81%, Blacks = 37%). They completed a brief survey on their expectations for their academic grades. Data on their expectancy scores and actual grades were analyzed at the end of the period of instruction. Optimists over-predicted their grades by 20.60%. Realists over-predicted their grades by 0.35%, whereas pessimists underestimated their grades by 14.33%. Overoptimistic perceptions may be maladaptive in an academic context.

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