PITTWIRE — From the COVID-19 pandemic and so-called murder hornets, to a contentious U.S. election season and widespread demands for racial justice, 2020 brought the world numerous, varied challenges. However, there are reasons for optimism in the new year, a trio of University of Pittsburgh experts say: For one, 2020 is soon coming to an end.Another reason is the relatively quick movement of vaccine candidates for COVID-19, as well as the high early efficacy rates for Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines.
Steven Albert, public health professor and chair of Pitt’s Department Behavioral and Community Health Sciences added that humans are “hardwired” for optimism.
“The majority of people—as many as 80%—overestimate the likelihood of positive events and underestimate negative events,” said Albert, who is also the Philip B. Hallen Endowed Chair in Community Health and Social Justice. And this optimism bias is not a bad thing.
“People mostly assume things are better than they are. That’s adaptive and possibly necessary for cooperation,” said Albert. “Optimism is also part of resilience. For example, we don’t have much experience with the COVID-19 vaccine, but people are optimistic that it’s going to be available and effective. Never have we developed a vaccine in less than 12 months. It’s extraordinary what we can do when we put our minds to it.”
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