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Survey on optimism or pessimism 2013

This statistic shows the results of a survey, conducted in 2013 among adult Americans, on whether they believe the glass is half full or half empty. 50 percent of respondents said they consider themselves optimists.

The optimism and pessimism of the American people

Optimism is defined as a mental attitude or worldview that favors a positive outcome, while pessimism favors a negative outcome or prediction. Depression in the United States is very common. In 2013, around 8.7 percent of U.S. adults aged between 18 and 25 reported that they had a major depression episode within the past year. Major depressive episodes in the United States are most common among American females. The number of prescription antidepressant drug use among women in the United States has increased by more than 10 percent between 1988 and 2012. Also in 2013, about one third of U.S. adults stated that they were happier than expected.

The general optimism and pessimism in a nation are often the result of its economic situation. The unemployment rate in the United States has been steadily decreasing every year since 2010; furthermore, it is expected to constantly decrease further until 2020. The prospering economy and increasing gross domestic product per capita in the United States is another source of optimism for the American people: The GDP per capita in the United States in 2014 was around 54,600 U.S. dollars. Moreover, it has been steadily increasing since 2010. In a survey conducted in July 2012, one third of Americans who defined themselves as lower-class stated that they were “not too happy” with their current lives. On the other hand, there was a larger percentage of people whom, according to themselves, belong to the upper class that stated that they were “very happy” with their current lives. In addition, upper- and middle-class American adults are more optimistic about the country’s long-term economic future in comparison to lower-class American adults.

Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist?

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Release date

July 2013


United States

Survey time period

June 20, 2013

Number of respondents

801 respondents

Age group

18 years and older

Method of interview

Telephone interview

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Statistics on "Depression in the U.S."

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