Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jonathon D. Brown
Positive illusions refers to a set of three related beliefs that characterize the way people think about (1) themselves, (2) their ability to control environmental events, and (3) their future. Instead of being evenhanded or balanced between the good and the bad, people are unrealistically positive: They believe they have many more positive than negative personal qualities, they exaggerate their abilities to bring about desired outcomes, and they are overly optimistic about their futures. If not too extreme, these positive illusions promote psychological well-being and psychological functioning. Accurate self-views were once thought to be an essential feature of psychological well-being. It is easy to see why. People who harbor delusions of grandeur or believe they control the moon and stars are not paragons of mental health. Whether accuracy is best, however, is another matter. It is entirely possible that excessively positive self-views are detrimental, but mildly positive ones are beneficial. ...