Optimism Bias


Have you ever said, or heard someone say, “That would never happen to me!”? Well, if that were true, then there would never be, an incident or accident anywhere. One of the reasons why incidents occur is because we have an optimism bias. The bias gives us an overconfidence that bad things will not happen to us. We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures. We watch our backs, weigh the odds, pack an umbrella. But both neuroscience and social science suggest that we are more optimistic than realistic. This bias can get us into serious trouble when not fully understood.


  1. Optimism Bias Overview
  2. Falling Victim To Optimism Bias
  3. Optimism Bias & Safety
  4. Assessing The Bias For You
  5. Being Pessimistic At Work
  6. Not Being A Pessimist At Home
  7. Preventing The Bias From Showing Up

Reflective Questions:

  • How affected are you by the optimism bias? Will it be easy or hard for you to be a pessimistic thinker at work? Why?
  • It will take plenty of concentration to recognize when you start making decisions based on your bias. What are you going to do to remind yourself to look at the facts and make sound rational decisions?
  • When has the optimism bias affected you or someone you know? Do you believe in the optimism bias why or why not?

Homework Assignment:

Your mission for this homework assignment is to channel your inner pessimist over the next 3-days. Now, the goal is not to become a full fledged pessimist, but instead focus on pessimistic decision making.

Remember, pessimistic decision making errors on the side of caution and thinks through worst case scenarios to ensure you are being as rational and practical as possible.

Journal Entry:

Post module activity that highlights the learning from the homework assignment and helps set a course for continued learning application.