Aussies Bright-Eyed, Bushy-Tailed About Future (It Says Here)

Despite constantly whinging about the weather, road congestion, software pricing and government incompetence, Australians are apparently one of the most optimistic nations on Earth. If the latest sociological findings are to be believed, denizens from down under have a much cheerier outlook about the future than most other countries — although not as much as Kiwis, who somehow managed to break into the top five.

Happy Australian picture from Shutterstock

Researchers from Boston University, et al, analysed over 150,000 individuals from 142 countries representing 95 per cent of the world’s population in a bid to examine the relationships between optimism and nationality. Each country was ranked in a scale of optimism based on subjective well-being, perceived health and hopes for the future.

The resulting report found that Australians are among the most optimistic in the world, featuring in the top twenty per cent of all the countries studied. The top five, meanwhile, were Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, New Zealand and the United States. The countries with the five lowest mean expectations for the future were Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti, Bulgaria and Lebanon.

Overall, the report found that young, female, highly educated, and affluent individuals are on average the most optimistic worldwide:

Taken together, our results suggest that the most optimistic people in the world may be young, economically secure, educated women in Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United States. Conversely, the most pessimistic people in the world may be old, poor, uneducated men in Zimbabwe.

The report concludes that optimism is primarily a subjective phenomena linked to an individual's perception of well-being and health. Interestingly, the study did not find any evidence that GDP or life expectancy were significant moderators.

“Our results suggest that optimism is not merely a benefit of living in industrialised nations, but reflects a universal characteristic that is associated with and potentially may serve to promote improved psychological functioning worldwide,” the authors note.

Optimism Is Universal: Exploring the Presence and Benefits of Optimism in a Representative Sample of the World [Journal of Personality]

Do you perceive the glass to be half-full, half-empty or not containing sufficient alcohol? Expound upon your future outlook in the comments section below.


Comments

    Tsch, I'm not optimistic at all; 20-something law student here. Human beings are happier than ever to permanently damage the environment, we're breeding at a stupidly unsustainable rate, and we're likely to have food and water shortages worldwide before I die. Technology increases are cool and all, but at the same time, 3d printed guns and ever increasing access to recipes for explosives combined with increasing ideological tribalism and radicalisation mean we're likely to see more terror-style attacks in the future, not less, unless we surrender significant privacy and civil liberty.

    Mark my words: The future has never looked grimmer.

      Pfft, Keep wearing your skivvies and drinking your soy lattes, hippy!!

      :)

        Like most optimists, you've preferred to ignore the things I actually spoke about, and instead make some snide cynical comment. Sadly, irony is neither a plan to survive into the future nor a food source.

          Harden up buddy, it's a jest. In actual fact, I think the world is in such a sorry state that I'm not sure if I want to bring a child into it. Turn the defensive dial back, it's the internet.

            To be fair to Fenixius, it is kinda difficult to detect the irony from your succinct response given the lack of voice tone/body language (smiley or no smiley). There are too many ostriches on LH/Giz who use the word 'hippy' to denigrate anyone who dares to express a concern about the planet's future. Their only interest is to point out how Australia is the 'best' country in the world (yet while still whinging about the minutiae of their day), and any reminder that this country is still a part of Earth and its problems will only attract their ire.

            I agree with both of you, by the way :)

      A reasonable if somewhat jaded view of the world today. My main concern too is the loss of personal freedoms and privacy. Technology is both the sword and pen of the future so what we need is a balance. Something I doubt we will find except in isolated pockets of the über rich!

      20-something law student with a typical, subjective 20-year-something view on history.

      Historically we are in a better place in every conceivable way. And that sociocultural progression (like technology) is advancing at an exponential rate. So beyond a world wide catastrophe, it's hard to imagine that progression coming to a slamming halt.

      I'd like to point out this particular article: http://singularityhub.com/2012/06/28/abundance-the-future-is-better-than-you-think/#13667625300001&24405

      One particular point is that in the past 100 years maternal mortality has dropped by by 90%, child mortality by 99%, meanwhile the average lifespan has doubled. We haven't changed our breeding habbits as much as much as we've experienced huge medical advances. Poverty is on an exponential decline, as is violence and xenophobic behavior. We're healthier than ever before and more informed with more access to information and education.

      If the article isn't enough maybe head somewhere like www.google.com.au/publicdata/ to do some actual research.

      Your fancy words, well constructed sentences and philosophical musings are not comparable to empirical evidence and historical patterns, so please don't pretend like they are.

        Science is improving at exponential rates, however society is decaying. There is no respect for fellow man, or even consideration for them. And all the while our desire to be politically correct and cautious is causing its too go backwards.

          You've got to be joking right - did you read what I wrote? DId you read the article mentioned? DId you look at social trends? Society is healthier than ever before.

    France legalized gay marriage, being the 14th country to do so whilst both political leaders we have are against it. I am not a homosexual but equal rights should be in order.

    It's because Australians have high disposable income. Higher minimum wage, better paying jobs and better social welfare mean that the average Aussie has more cash to spend on... stuff than the average person in other first-world nations. Even when you take into account the high cost of living and the Australia tax that Australians get slugged to get all the meaty import goods, they can still generally afford to live to a better standard than the people of most other nations.

    Then you consider that our beaches are awesome, our women are beautiful and our beer is... well, some of our beer is fantastic. We've still got our drech, the same as everywhere else, but we've got enough decent brews and the capital to pay for them.

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