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© Naomi August | Unsplash
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Are Depressed People Actually Just Realistic?

Picture of Esme Benjamin
Wellness Editor
Updated: 23 June 2017
Are you a glass half-full or half-empty kinda person? The answer to that question could indicate whether you have a realistic perception of yourself and the world around you, or not.

Despite the common rhetoric around depression, those who tend towards the blues might not be overly negative after all—they may actually be seeing things a whole lot clearer than their happy-go-lucky counterparts.

This concept is known as “depressive realism”, and there’s research to back it up. For example, one 1979 study presented participants—some depressed, some not—with a button and a green light, and asked them to predict how much control they had over turning the light on and off. They discovered depressed participants were far more accurate in their predictions—they knew the degree of control they were exerting was limited.

© María Victoria Heredia Reyes
© María Victoria Heredia Reyes | Unsplash

Conversely, those who are not depressed have an overly optimistic view of pretty much everything. According to psychologists most of us consistently overestimate our own talents, abilities and possibilities—a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It’s why incompetent people refuse to acknowledge their mistakes and shortcomings—they believe completely in themselves, even though their confidence is misplaced.

Though embarrassing for them (not to mention irritating for others) this inaccurate way of seeing the world works like mental bubblewrap, buffering harsher aspects of the everyday. Maybe a touch of delusion is good, considering life without rose-tinted glasses can get pretty tough.