New Research on Optimism From Fuqua School of Business

You’ll find a job faster after earning your MBA if you tend to see the glass as half full, according to research out of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Yale School of Management.

A study conducted by Ron Kaniel and David T. Robinson of the Fuqua School of Business, in collaboration with Cade Massey of Yale SOM, focuses on the effects of dispositional optimism — a general belief that good things tend to happen more often than bad things — on job searches and promotions among MBA graduates.

The researchers surveyed 232 MBA students between 2005 and 2007 about their relative dispositional optimism and their answers were correlated to their job-search outcomes.

Optimists, the findings show, spend less time and effort searching for jobs and receive offers more quickly. Even better: once on the job, optimists have a better shot of a promotion than their pessimistic peers in the first two years.

The researchers said they were careful to consider variables in their analysis.

“We included a special survey that measured how well-liked and outwardly charismatic these individuals were,” Robinson says. “Optimists certainly appear more charismatic to their peers, and more likely to be destined for success. But these measures alone do not account for the findings. Optimism is more than charisma.”

“Optimists are more willing to disengage from unrealistic courses of action, and re-engage in more practical ones; they are more willing to adapt, and this seems to be part of the reason for their success,” says Massey.

The importance of a positive attitude is definitely something to keep in mind now as an applicant, and later as you navigate the post-MBA job search.

(image credit: Flickr user blmurch, CC 2.0)

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