Dear Free-Range Kids: Hey, worst-first thinking has a psychological category all its own! Look at this excerpt from Difficult Personalities by Helen McGrath and Hazel Edwards.
Protective pessimism can take many forms, but essentially it is about always assuming the worst will happen and behaving accordingly. Protective pessimists believe that if something can go wrong, it will. If something bad can happen, it will happen, and it will happen to them. Rarely do they expect good outcomes. So they miss out on the joy of anticipation and dwelling pleasurably on the “nice” aspects, in case the gap between pleasurable “dreams” and the reality is too great. They are not game to tempt fate by hoping, dreaming, or wanting, in case they get caught unprepared by negatives. They prepare for disillusionment, sadness and tragedy by protecting their projections with pessimism so they will not get caught by future disappointments. Instead of living up to expectations, they live down, and are often negative in other ways. Other people don’t like being around pessimistic people because they can be contagious.
Lenore here: The two things that interest me most about this are the way worst-first thinking sucks the joy out of life by infusing each moment with potential doom. And, two, that it’s contagious.
So Is Worst-First thinking the best friend a marketer can have? After all, it makes us ready to buy anything promising safety. But also, by spreading misery, it makes us even more desperate for something that can cheer us up. Maybe something we can buy. And so instead of embracing life, we embrace stuff.
Hmm. – L.
Don’t give the gift that keeps on giving: Fear.