Difference Between Pessimist and Realist

Key Difference – Pessimist vs Realist

Although there are certain similarities, there is a key difference between a pessimist and a realist. What do you think if there is a glass half filled with water placed on a table in front of you? Is it half full or half empty? This is the classic question that is used to arrive at the attitude of a person and see if he is a pessimist or an optimist. But there is the third kind also who is known as the realist. Realist and pessimist are far apart on a continuum that has pessimist at one extreme and the optimist at the other extreme. The key difference between a pessimist and a realist is that while a pessimist has a negative approach to life, a realist approaches life in an objective manner. Through this article lets us examine the difference between the two words.

Who is a Pessimist?

A pessimist is a person who has a negative outlook towards life and always expects undesirable outcomes. The proverbial pessimist is the one who thinks that the glass is half empty rather than being half full. A pessimist has a bleak outlook and believes that the world and the people surrounding him are all bad. In some cases, continued pessimist attitude leads to depression and require medication or therapy depending upon underlying causes. Pessimism is a trait that can be improved though it takes time and effort to convert a pessimist into an optimist or at least a realist.

Difference Between Pessimist and Realist

A pessimist believes the glass is half empty.

Who is a Realist?

A realist is an individual who is not bothered about the left or the right wing mentalities, and he sees things and concepts as they are around him. He is not the sort of person who would believe in hearsays and propaganda as he has his own view about things. These people are neither with the majority or the minority but take a decision or action based upon their understanding of the situation.

A realist is objective and scientific by nature and does not believe a thing until he has the facts. Most atheists and agnostics fall under this category of people as they do not believe in religion or deities just because their elders ask them to do so. It is hard to categorize a realist as either positive or negative as he understands both the positive as well as negative aspects of a situation and sizes up a situation accordingly.

A realist does not see only obstacles or opportunities amidst obstacles. He tries to be practical in all situations and does not act on his whims.

Pessimist vs Realist

A realist only sees half a glass of liquid.


What is the difference between a Pessimist and Realist?

Definitions of Pessimist and Realist:

Pessimist: A pessimist is always negative.

Realist: A realist anticipates results taking stock of the situation.

Characteristics of Pessimist and Realist:


Pessimist: A pessimist has a negative outlook and always fears the worst to happen.

Realist: A realist assesses the situation based upon facts rather than looking at things from his colored glasses.

The individual:

Pessimist: A pessimist looks at only the proverbial dark clouds.

Realist: A realist is a pragmatic individual.


Pessimist: A pessimist believes the glass is half empty.

Realist: A realist only sees half a glass of liquid.


Image Courtesy:

1. Glass, Cognac, Smoke, Full, Empty View by Geralt [Public Domain] via Pixabay

2. Glass of Water By Derek Jensen (Tysto) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons