Learned Optimism: What Has it Got to Do with Your Child’s Future?

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Estimated reading time: 1.5 minutes "One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself." Lucille Ball Dr. Martin Seligman is an American psychologist and an author of the book ‘Learned Optimism’. It details the years of research he had done on the benefits of positive psychology. He concluded that it leads to better physical health and higher achievements. However, this does not signify that pessimism has no role in the society as it does help give reality checks at times.

A Case Study on Insurance Agents

The following is a case study of insurance agents from Metropolitan (MET), an insurance company in America. MET, as it is known today, has an issue with their insurance agents. Every year, they hire five thousand new agents out of the sixty thousand who applied for the job. They tested them, screened them and interviewed them and provided them with extensive training. However, half of them quit within the first year. Those who stayed on did not produce well. Eighty percent of them were gone by the fourth year. It is said to cost MET more than thirty thousand dollars to hire a single agent. MET lost about seventy-five million dollars every year in hiring cost.

Implemented Solution

Dr. Seligman came up with a questionnaire, which is able to determine and differentiate one’s outlook from deeply pessimistic to irrepressibly optimistic. As a result, new candidates had to take two tests now when applying for an insurance agent position with MET.

The Results

The results were astonishing. It turned out that insurance agents who scored in the top half of optimism sold thirty-seven percent more policies over two years compared to those in the pessimistic bottom half.

What Has it Got to Do with You?

People with more optimism are supposedly more resilience and determined. Life is filled with up and downs. Imagine a child who is better equipped to handle disappointments or setbacks, he or she will then be able to move on with life. Dr. Seligman has found ways in which optimism can be learned. We will be sharing them with you soon. Alternatively, you may click on the link below to read the PDF copy of the book: