billboard in NYC (c) geri weis-corbley 2008

We’ve seen the studies that show optimistic people are less likely to get heart and lung disease or breast cancer, and are generally happier.

A new study out this week provides evidence that optimism also helps when looking for a job.

A working paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research unveiled a study of MBA students who were looking for a job.  The results are in, say the study’s authors, business professors Ron Kaniel, Cade Massey, and David T. Robinson: An optimistic disposition is an important factor in job search success.

Using a novel longitudinal data set to track job searches, the researchers found that dispositional optimists experience “significantly better job search outcomes than pessimists with similar skills.”

“During the job search process, they spend less effort searching and are offered jobs more quickly,” the authors said in the summary.

Optimists are also choosier and more likely to be promoted than others.

Even though invisible on a resume, “dispositional optimism” is an influential personality trait associated with individuals who believe, either rightly or wrongly, that in general good things tend to happen to them more often than bad things.

“Although we find optimists are more charismatic and are perceived by others to be more likely to succeed,” the paper went on, “these factors alone do not explain away the findings.”

The authors point to unseen elements of optimism “not readily observed by one’s peers” as having the most influential effect on economic outcomes.

You can order the full report for a fee or apply online at the group’s website,



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