The positive power of negative thinking: The defensive pessimism and performance/well-being in Chinese Organization

[Speaker] Feng, Yun:1
[Co-author] Chou, Lifang:1, Tsai, Sungchun:2
1:National Cheng Kung University (Taiwan), 2:National Taipei University of Education (Taiwan)

Besides optimism and pessimism, Norem and Cantor (1986) found another cognitive strategy--defensive pessimism, that individual takes action to avoid negative outcomes with low expectation and high reflection. We conducted two studies to (1) develop measurement of Chinese Defensive Pessimism (2) explore the difference of behavior and well-being among optimist, defensive pessimist, and pessimist.
Study 1, with 185 undergraduates as participants, found: (1) defensive pessimists had the highest reflectivity and the same level of negative expectation as pessimists; (2) defensive pessimist's academic performance had no difference with optimists' but was better than pessimist's. Study 2, using 200 Taiwanese employees as sample, found that: (1) defensive pessimists' performance had no difference with optimists' but better than pessimists'; (2) defensive pessimists had higher organizational citizenship behaviors and organizational commitments; (3) defensive pessimists and optimists had lower emotional exhaustion than pessimists. Finally, the contribution, limitation and practical significance of this research were discussed.
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