People tend to overestimate the probability of positive events and underestimate the probability of negative events happening to them in the future (Sharot, 2011). For example, we may underestimate our risk of getting cancer and overestimate our future success on the job market.  A number of factors can explain unrealistic optimism, including perceived control and being in a good mood (Helweg-Larsen & Shepperd, 2001).  (See also overconfidence.)


Sharot, T. (2011). The optimism bias. Current Biology, 21(23), R941-R945.

Helweg-Larsen, M., & Shepperd, J. A. (2001). Do moderators of the optimistic bias affect personal or target risk estimates? A review of the literature. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5(1), 74-95.