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Also known as optimistic bias, unrealistic optimism is the tendency to believe that positive events are more expected to happen to oneself than others, and negative events are more expected to happen to others than oneself. The concept was first introduced in 1980 by psychologist Weinstein and ever since its launch, the theory has received strong empirical support. People’s tendency to believe that the positive outcomes are more expected to happen to themselves is relevant to almost any case where there is perceived beneficial outcome or underestimated threat. It becomes more significant in high-risk situations.

For example optimistic bias can affect the overconfident manager of a company (even leader of nations in some historical cases) who believes his strategic decision will turn beneficial for the whole company (or country), as well as a teenager who thinks that she will not get pregnant with one incident of unsafe sex. Optimistic bias in some cases can induce people to under-invest in preventative care and other risk reducing behaviors.

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