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Defensive Pessimism

Definition

Defensive pessimism is a strategy people can use to manage their anxiety. Those who use the strategy feel anxious and out of control as they think about an upcoming situation. In response to those feelings, they set pessimistic expectations about how things will go, and they mentally rehearse all the things they can think of that might happen. Thinking in specific and vivid terms about things that might go wrong helps these individuals focus on what they can do to prevent the disasters they imagine.

Defensive pessimism is an example of an affect regulation strategy. These strategies describe the ways that people try to handle their emotions in everyday life. The strategy of defensive pessimism prevents anxiety from interfering with what individuals want to accomplish, and ...

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