SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Pollyanna, and her principle.


Welcome to another installment of SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why all these new words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, like the ones you’re sure to hear when asking the city’s corporate attorney why the FOIA information request for Bicentennial commission finances, which was due to be handed over on July 8, still hasn’t arrived on the 14th?

It’s because a healthy vocabulary isn’t about intimidation through erudition. Rather, it’s about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one’s pay grade or station in life.

Even these very same casually flippant, bond-engorged municipal corporate attorneys can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate what they knew and when they knew it, all we have left is plenty of time — and the opportunity to learn something, if we’re so inclined.

Today’s word is Pollyanna, and by extension, the Pollyanna principle. A quick search reveals two mentions of Pollyanna at NAC since the blog’s inception in 2004.

Earlier this year …

Baby Doe … or the antidote to Pollyanna.

 … and in 2008.

Film: “The Way I Spent the End of the World.”

How willful is the blind optimism?



1. an excessively or blindly optimistic person.

2. (often lowercase). Also, Pollyannaish. unreasonably or illogically optimistic: “Some pollyanna notions about world peace.”

Origin of Pollyanna … from the name of the child heroine created by Eleanor Porter (1868-1920), American writer

Taking it a step further, there’s positivity bias, as opposed the negativity bias that grips me when evangelists mount the steps to my porch.

Pollyanna principle (Wikipedia)

The Pollyanna principle (also called Pollyannaism or positivity bias) is the tendency for people to remember pleasant items more accurately than unpleasant ones. Research indicates that, at the subconscious level, the mind has a tendency to focus on the optimistic while, at the conscious level, it has a tendency to focus on the negative. This subconscious bias towards the positive is often described as the Pollyanna principle.

I’m unsure what prompted my interest in the word Pollyanna, although earlier in the day, I saw someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap.