If you didn't read part one of this post series, you should really go back and do that. I don't actually say that very often, even when I do a series of posts. Generally, I try to keep the individual posts episodic in nature while being related in overall subject matter. However, this post is directly linked to the last post in this series, and, although you can read it all on its own, it won't have the same relevance. As such, I'm not repeating my disclaimer about how this is not meant to offend anyone.
Also, the planned part two of this series has been pushed to part three, because I realized there's something else that needs to be talked about in relation to part one that is more closely related than where I was going next. So those three types of thinking will be in part three.
I find this particular piece of information fascinating. I find it fascinating, because I completely do not understand how anyone can be this way, and, yet, most people are precisely this way. And that, actually, scares me, because, as I said, I just can't comprehend this.
80% of people (and I have to wonder how strongly this 80% correlates to the last 80% I was talking about) can not (pay attention to that: they CAN NOT) anticipate negative outcomes. Wait a minute, it gets better. Not only can they not anticipate them, when told what the negative outcomes might be along with the positive ones, they can not retain the negative ones. Their brains focus only on the positive outcomes and completely forget that anything bad could happen.
There is that "everything will work out for the best" thing that people say, and, it turns out, it is not just something people say, it is something people really believe. Not in a general sense, either; they believe it in a personal sense. 80% of people believe that everything's going to be okay but, not just "okay," they believe things will be awesome. For them. Personally. Sometime in the future. And, I suppose, that's how people keep from existing in terminal depression even when things are horrible and, worse, completely hopeless.
This whole area of study began over gambling addiction. Some people wondered why gambling addiction happened so as to be able to prevent it from happening, and what they found is that people suffering from gambling addiction absolutely cannot foresee the possibility that they might lose. Given scenarios of lower and lower odds of winning, they would keep going, and they would keep going because they believed that they would actually win. Some of them would keep going even if they were told "there is 0% chance that you will win this. You will not win this," because they couldn't believe that there was no chance that they would win.
That makes sense with gambling addicts, right? Well, when the financial collapse happened, that study was broadened because some people wondered if the cause or, at least, part of the cause was, basically, gambling addiction. Were those people that were in charge of all of that money behaving in the same way that gambling addicts behave? Well, yes. Yes, they were. But what they found out is that that behavior is endemic to all people. 80% of them, anyway. Because they literally can not believe that they will lose.
Even more interesting, they've found this same "risk taking" behavior in animals at around the same percentages. Evolutionary biologists are all over this. At the moment, the simple explanation is that the cautious members of the group insure the survival of the group against the recklessness of the rest of the group. The risk taking behavior is necessary, though, because, otherwise, the group would settle into its niche and cease to grow and change and, then, if there was any kind of catastrophe, the group would be wiped out.
From this perspective, it makes sense that so many people want only "decisiveness." Heedlessness is part of their brain chemistry. So to speak. However, that doesn't change the fact that most of those decisions are the wrong ones. That is why there are so many of those people, though. The cautious members hang back and watch the 80% stumble blindly ahead, most of them getting killed. The cautious ones then follow the ones that fortuitously chose the correct path. It's an interesting dynamic.
Now, I would imagine that most writers, the good ones, at any rate, fall into the 20% group that can envision bad outcomes to situations. You have to be able to think of the bad things to make the story interesting. Otherwise, you're just a happy happy joy joy writer. And I'm sure there are some of those out there, but I bet they are the minority among writers. I'd like to see a study on that, so, "science," get out there and do that! Beyond just thinking of the hypothetical bad outcome, the writer has to be able to put him/herself in the mental space of the character and experience that nastiness. I suppose, in the end, that's why there aren't more people that write. They can't think of the bad stuff.
I suppose, also, that that's why the 80% are attracted to stories where bad stuff happens and why they are surprised by the bad things that happen -- they just cannot anticipate those things, so they get the joy of being surprised every single time because, as I said, not only can they not anticipate those things, they can't remember them from one situation to the next.
That's good for us writerly people, I would say.
Next time we'll get back to those three thinking styles.