60-Second Science

Some See Every Glass As Mostly Empty

A study finds that people with what's called a negative dispositional attitude will, as a rule, dislike, well, most everything. Erika Beras reports.

We all have that friend. The Debbie Downer who finds fault with sunshine and lollipops and sees a perpetually half empty glass. Well, it turns out being such a drag might be part of their individual personality—a dimension researchers are calling “dispositional attitude.”

A new study says people with a negative dispositional attitude will, as a rule, dislike things. All things. In other words, haters gonna hate.

Researchers created a scale that required people to report their attitudes towards things like architecture and camping. They found people with positive attitudes were generally open and curious, and tended to follow positive behaviors like recycling and driving carefully. The negative Nellies: not so much. The study is in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. [Justin Hepler and Dolores Albarracín, Attitudes without objects: Evidence for a dispositional attitude, its measurement, and its consequences]

Researchers say this personality trait could also be used for marketers—rather than convincing those with a negative dispositional attitude to like their product, they could just convince them to dislike everybody else’s.

—Erika Beras

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.] 

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