People who have hope generally have better developmental outcomes. In this four-part series, psychologist Dr Stephanie Thornton looks at building back hope as we emerge from the pandemic. Part three looks at how we can help young people to consider, handle and manage risk

 

Human beings often make mistakes when it comes to understanding risks. On the one hand, our species is susceptible to misplaced optimism when it suits: it won’t happen to me, the risk is not as big as people think and so on, which all too easily encourages us to ignore the dangers and take risks which we should have avoided, sometimes leading to serious health hazards (Dillard et al, 2006) or even fatal errors of judgement (Little, 2006).

On the other hand, we are also prone to exaggerating risks: we are the only species on the planet whose behaviour can be constrained as much by fear of an invisible spirit world as by a visibly charging rhino. Many mental health issues have their root in the exaggeration of risk which generates a damaging anxiety.

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