Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Pollyanna Principle (positive bias)

Pollyanna Pollyanna is a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter that is now considered a classic of children's literature, with the title character's name becoming a popular term for someone with the same optimistic outlook. The book was such a success that Porter soon produced a sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up (1915). Eleven more Pollyanna sequels, known as "Glad Books", were later published, most of them written by Elizabeth Borton or Harriet Lummis Smith. Further sequels followed, including Pollyanna Plays the Game by Colleen L. Reece, published in 1997.

The Pollyanna principle The Pollyanna principle (also called Pollyannaism or positive bias) describes the tendency for people to agree with positive statements describing themselves. The phenomenon is similar to the Forer effect. Research indicates that, at the unconscious level, our minds have a tendency to focus on the optimistic while, at the conscious level, we have a tendency to focus on the negative. This unconscious bias towards the positive is often described as the Pollyanna principle.

The concept as described by Matlin and Stang in 1978 used the archetype of Pollyanna, a young girl with infectious optimism. Critics of personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator argue that the tests are considered accurate by people exhibiting Pollyannaism.

IBM Pollyanna principle

The "IBM Pollyanna principle" is an axiom that states "machines should work; people should think." This can be understood as a statement of extreme optimism, that machines should do all the hard work, freeing people to think (hence the reference to Pollyanna), or as a cynical statement, suggesting that most of the world's major problems result from machines that fail to work, and people who fail to think.

an excessively or blindly optimistic person.
( often lowercase ) Also, Pol·ly·an·na·ish. unreasonably or illogically optimistic: some pollyanna notions about world peace.

from the name of the child heroine created by Eleanor Porter (1868–1920), American writer

—Related forms
Pol·ly·an·na·ism, noun

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