Optimism Bias

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Academic Definitions

Optimism bias is a person’s tendency to believe that a negative event is less likely to occur to him/her than other people, and the person’s perception that s/he is more adept at averting injury should a negative event occur [1].


Optimism bias relates to the perception of personal invulnerability, representing the underestimation of the likelihood of experiencing negative events [2]It represents a defensive distortion that can undermine preventive actions. [3] Optimism bias can therefore be considered a form of indirect denial of risk. It is a concept that is frequently cited in research on risk and is an individual factor influencing Risk Perception. [4] [5]

See also



  1. Weinstein, N. (1984). Why it won’t happen to me: Perceptions of risk factors and susceptibility. Health Psychology, 3, 431-457.
  2. Weinstein, N.D. & Klein, W.M. (1996). Unrealistic optimism: present and future. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 15, 1-8.
  3. Schwarzer R. (1994). Optimism, vulnerability, and self-beliefs as health-related cognitions: a systematic overview. Psychology and Health, 9, 161-180.
  4. Lopes, L. L. (1995). Algebra and process in the modelling of risky choice. In J. Busemeyer & R. Hastie & D. L. Medin (Eds.), Decision making from a cognitive perspective. San Diego CA: Academic Press.
  5. McKenna, F. P. (1993). It Won’t Happen to Me: Unrealistic Optimism or Illusion of Control. British Journal of Psychology, 84, pp 39–50.