Positive Illusions

Positive illusions are a form of self-deception in which people have inflated, optimistic attitudes about themselves or others close to them.

There are three general patterns of thinking that are common positive illusions.

One is an overestimation of good qualities, abilities, achievements, and successes. People tend to mentally emphasize their good qualities and underestimate the prevalence of their bad qualities and traits.

Another type of positive illusion is an overestimation of the amount of control an individual has in a situation. Some people have the tendency to believe they have control over outcomes that they have no influence over whatsoever. An example of this could be seen in gambling situations where people use tricks and superstitious behaviors believing these will influence the games of chance.

Being more optimistic about situations and the future than warranted is also a positive illusion. Most people use positive illusions without being aware of it. Research suggest that they can maintain self-esteem levels and prevent any mental discomfort from occurring by thinking of negative things. Complete absence of positive illusions can be seen in people with clinical depression leading to the claim that they are "sadder but wiser" because they are not using positive illusions to be self-deceptive.

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