While all these personality types have their own characteristic traits and such, there is a tendency to generalize everything that is not ‘optimism’ as ‘pessimism’. Which is again, grossly inappropriate. What is usually taken as pessimism, could, in fact, be ‘realism’, which then leads us to the question―what is realism and how is it different from pessimism. The following sections of this PsycholoGenie article, will highlight exactly that.
A more detailed explanation of these two types and their traits will help you understand how these are different and why these terms should not be used interchangeably. But first, an explanation of what these two personality types are.
Moreover, a realist only forms an opinion after analyzing all the data and information that is available to him, thus, his opinions, decisions, and outlook are usually more objective and unbiased. He does not let expectations decide the way he feels.
However, pessimists and realists are starkly different. People who do not indulge in unnecessary fantasy (as optimists do) are not pessimists, they are simply existing in reality, stating that either outcome is possible, which includes the negative as well; in comparison, a pessimist will spend time over thinking all the negative outcomes that are possible, and then take one step further and convince himself that they will happen (all of them, if he had anything to do with the way things went).
When any situation presents itself, a realist, like we said earlier, will try to analyze it by taking into account all the facts and information, and without having any expectations cloud a decision, will form an opinion like thus. A pessimist, on the other hand, will have a negative spin on things right from the word go; he will only think of all the things that could go wrong and probably will. His outlook therefore is―he knows things will go wrong, he’s just waiting for when. If things work out for the positive, he will immediately pass it off as a rare occurrence, never to happen again. A realist, on the other hand, having looked at the situation objectively, will be prepared for both outcomes and will not be either ecstatic or depressed with the outcome (having predicted the possibility of either outcome).