Students Staff

30 May 2012

Hollywood star praises Essex academic

Colchester Campus

For those who see the glass half-full or half-empty, research published in a new popular science book by Professor Elaine Fox, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex, explains that being optimistic or pessimistic may be rooted in your genes.

Rainy Brain Sunny Brain is the result of a number of years of work by the leading psychologist and neuroscientist, who has been examining why some of us have a tendency to be optimistic or pessimistic and how this is hardwired into our brains. Giving insight into genetic factors, neurological issues and life experiences contributing to these tendencies, Professor Fox shows how we can brighten our lives and help ourselves flourish by retraining our brains.

Although she concludes that looking on the bright side of life may be down to, in part, our genes, she also highlights how the latest research now indicates that techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and attention retraining exercises can alter our brains’ circuitry, allowing lifelong pessimists to think more positively.

Professor Fox said: “what my research shows is that it’s not impossible to change the optimistic and pessimistic brain circuits, and in fact this is a very optimistic message. There are many, many things that we now know on good scientific grounds, do actually lead to changes, so we can overcome very pessimistic mindsets to turn into more optimistic mindsets.”

The book, to be published in June, has already received support from American film star Michael J. Fox. He features Professor Fox’s research on his documentary ‘Adventures of an incurable Optimist’ and found he holds the optimism gene.

He said: “Professor Fox provides a mental map to the sunny side of the street. For optimists and pessimists alike, this fascinating book is a must read, (and I’m not just saying that because I’m in it).”

For more information please see:

Notes to editors

For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on telephone: 01206 872400, e-mail: .

For more information about the book please contact Emma Finnigan at The Random House Group on telephone: 020 7840 8773, e-mail:  

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