How Optimistic are You?

See how what’s in your glass compares to your neighbor’s glass.

Northwestern Mutual recently introduced The Optimism Barometer to test how American optimism is faring. The tool tells you how your optimism matches up to the rest of the nation.

After completing six quick questions, the needle moves to show the individual’s optimism score, which is compared to the results of the rest of the U.S. population, based on research by the Northwestern Mutual. Along with the score, a profile of the people who share the same optimism score is shown—identifying potential crossover characteristics among similarly optimistic or pessimistic people, Northwestern Mutual said.

For instance, if you score 6 out of 10 on the barometer, it lists similar traits of those other 21% of people with a similar level of optimism. People in that range “feel generally optimistic about their personal success” and are “happy, but not overjoyed, with their current circumstances.”

Don’t assume you know where you fall on the scale. Northwestern Mutual said in a release that “even for those who already see themselves as ‘glass-half-full’ or ‘glass-half-empty’ types, the Optimism Barometer can be revealing.”

The firm plans to track the data collected via the Optimism Barometer and identify general trends nationally and regionally. “It will be interesting to see how—or if—the optimism needle moves in the weeks, months and years ahead,” said Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president, in the release.

Painfully Optimistic?

The Optimism Barometer was developed using questions from The American Reality Study, commissioned by Northwestern Mutual and conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates. The study confirmed the stereotype that, overall, Americans are pretty optimistic.

For instance, two-thirds of respondents (65%) agree with the idea that someday they will get to where they want to be in life, including one-quarter (27%) who strongly agree, according to the study. And even in today’s economic environment, most respondents (58%) at least somewhat agree that the American Dream is still attainable for most Americans.

With that said, only one-third of respondents feel they are doing a good job preparing financially for the future, but it’s at the top of the list of priority goals. In fact, 10% said saving or preparing for retirement is their number one goal, after being healthy (14%), being financial secure (12%), and professional success (12%). Let’s see if optimism can turn into action.

More information and results about the study, conducted in January, is available here.