This one falls under the annals of research that seems a complete waste of time and money.
A Science Journals article brings to light a 2013 study in which “unrealistic optimism” was examined. In short – just why the hell are some people so damn happy?
More specifically, (and this is taken from the study itself), why are some people unable to foresee a future of misfortune and medical illness?
Seriously. We can’t make this stuff up – and it only gets better.
In an attempt to blunt happiness, the study gathered 31 healthy, happy, right-handed people (apparently, there was some unreported significance in this latter trait) and flushed their right and left ears with cold water. The right inferor frontal gyrus is an area under the right temple, in your brain, that has been previously linked to unrealistic optimism. It’s said to be activated during left ear irrigation – but not the right.
Makes sense.. right?
Apparently, the test subjects were asked to estimate their personal risk of future illness while water was continuously poured down both ears, in alternating fashion.
The results are in and “risk estimates were significantly higher during left-ear stimulation, whereas they remained unchanged during right-ear stimulation.”
The study forthrightly concludes that unrealistic optimism is most definitely reduced during vestibular stimulation of the left ear.
I wonder if researchers ever considered that some people simply have a learned or natural ability to not worry about things they can’t control?
Anyway – the next time you get depressed in the shower, you’ll know why!