Call time on pessimism

12th December 2003 at 00:00
The recent conference on creating a more confident Scotland, a supreme test of optimism surely, heard from the international US guru on "learned optimism", Martin Seligman from the University of Philadelphia (TESS, November 28).

He noted that certain professions are prone to more bouts of optimism andor pessimism than others. This occurred to him at home one night when the phone rang and he found himself at the receiving end of some sales talk which he duly brought to an end by putting the phone down.

Being a persistent academic researcher, this got Seligman thinking about the kind of person it would take to be a salesman. How to retain a sense of cheery optimism when, it emerges, nine out of 10 people put the phone down on you.

Having investigated, Seligman was able to tell his audience: "A pessimistic salesman is more optimistic than anyone in this room."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today