IELTS Academic Reading Practice 65

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 14-27.

Questions 14-18

Look at the following Statements (Questions 14-18) and List of people below.

Match each statement with the correct person.

Write the correct number A-G in boxes Questions 14-18 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

List of people
  1. Brice Pitt
  2. Chad Wallens
  3. Adweek
  4. Steven Stack
  5. Dr. Becca
  6. Dr. Rosalind Wright
  7. Martin Seligman

14. Optimism can increase one’s life length
15. Feelings of optimism differ according to gender
16. Adversity is the breeding ground of resilience.
17. Material wealth doesn't necessarily bring happiness.
18. Optimism is beneficial to human evolution
Questions 19-23

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer in the reading passage? In boxes 19-23 on your answer sheet, write

YES   if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO   if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

19. Optimists have better relationships with people than pessimists.
20. The positive influences of optimism on health have been long known.
21. A biological basis for optimists’ improved lung function is due to increased to immune system.
22. Evenness of mind under stress is important to building resilience.
23. Good humour means good flexibility
Questions 24-27

The reading passage has ten paragraphs labelled A-J.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-J in boxes 24-27 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

24 An explanation of a realistic point of view being disadvantageous
25 A situation where optimism can enhance a person’s perception of personal affluence
26 Reference to determination and the ability to deal with personal setbacks being the keys to success
27 A case of a difficult time growing up leading to greater fortitude in later life

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


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Optimism and Health

A Mindset is all. How you start the year will set the template for the rest, and two scientifically backed character traits hold the key: optimism and resilience (if the prospect leaves you feeling pessimistically spineless, the good news is that you can significantly boost both of these qualities).

B Faced with 12 months of plummeting economics and rising human distress, staunchly maintaining a rosy view might seem deludedly Pollyannaish. But here we encounter the optimism paradox. As Brice Pitt, an emeritus professor of the psychiatry of old age at Imperial College, London, told me, “Optimists are unrealistic. Depressive people see things as they really are, but that is a disadvantage from an evolutionary point of view. Optimism is a piece of evolutionary equipment that carried us through millennia of setbacks.”

C Optimists have plenty to be happy about. In other words, if you can convince yourself that things will get better, the odds of it happening will improve because you keep on playing the game. In this light, optimism “is a habitual way of explaining your setbacks to yourself,” reports Martin Seligman, the psychology professor and author of “Learned Optimism.” The research shows that when times get tough, optimists do better than pessimists. They succeed better at work, respond better to stress, suffer fewer depressive episodes, and achieve more personal goals.

D Studies also show that belief can help through times of financial difficulties. Chad Wallens, a social forecaster at the Henley Centre who surveyed middle-class Britons’ beliefs about income, has found that “the people who feel wealthiest, and those who feel poorest, actually have almost the same amount of money at their disposal. Their attitudes and behavior patterns, however, are different from one another.”

E Optimists have something else to be cheerful about; in general, they have greater longevity. For example, a study of 660 volunteers by the Yale University psychologist Dr. Becca Levy found that thinking positively adds an average of seven years to your life. Other American research claims to have identified a physical mechanism behind this. A Harvard Medical School study of 670 men found that the optimists have significantly better lung function. The lead author, Dr. Rosalind Wright, believes that attitude somehow strengthens the immune system. “Preliminary studies on heart patients suggest that, by changing a person’s outlook, you can improve their mortality risk,” she says.

G Few studies have tried to ascertain the proportion of optimists in the world. But a 1995 nationwide survey conducted by the American magazine Adweek found that about half the population counted themselves as optimists, with women slightly more optimistic than men (53 percent versus 48 percent) to see the sunny side.

H Of course, there is no guarantee that optimism will insulate you from hard times, but the best strategy is still to keep smiling and thank your lucky stars. Because (as every good sports coach knows) adversity is character-forming, so long as you practice the skills of resilience. Research among tycoons and business leaders shows that the path to success is often littered with failure, such as a record of sackings, bankruptcies and blistering castigation. But instead of curling into a ball beneath the coffee table, they resiliently pick themselves up, learn from their pratfalls and march boldly towards the next opportunity.

I The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma or tragedy. A resilient person may go through difficulty and uncertainty, but he or she will doggedly bounce back. Optimism is one of the central traits required in building resilience, say Yale University investigators in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. They add that resilient people learn to hold on to their sense of humor and this can help them to keep a flexible attitude when big changes of plan are warranted. The ability to accept your lot with equanimity also plays an important role, the study adds.

J One of the best ways to acquire resilience is through experiencing a difficult childhood, the sociologist Steven Stack reports in the Journal of Social Psychology. For example, short men are less likely to commit suicide than tall guys, he says, because shorties develop psychological defense skills to handle the bullies and social stigma that their lack of stature attracts. By contrast, those who enjoyed adversity-free youths can get derailed by setbacks later on because they’ve never learned any coping strategies.  If you are handicapped by having had a happy childhood, then practicing proactive optimism can help you to become more resilient. Studies of resilient people show that they take more risks. They court failure and learn not to fear it.And despite being thick-skinned, resilient types are also more open than average to other people. Bouncing through knock-backs is all part of the process.

K It’s about optimistic risk-taking - being confident that people will like you. Simply smiling and being warm to people can help. It’s an altruistic path to self-interest - and if it achieves nothing else, it will reinforce an age-old adage: hard times can bring out the best in you.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Optimism and Health

A Mindset is all. How you start the year will set the template for the rest, and two scientifically backed character traits hold the key: optimism and resilience (if the prospect leaves you feeling pessimistically spineless, the good news is that you can significantly boost both of these qualities).

B Faced with 12 months of plummeting economics and rising human distress, staunchly maintaining a rosy view might seem deludedly Pollyannaish. But here we encounter the optimism paradox. As Brice Pitt, an emeritus professor of the psychiatry of old age at Imperial College, London, told me, “Optimists are unrealistic. Depressive people see things as they really are, but that is a disadvantage from an evolutionary point of view. Optimism is a piece of evolutionary equipment that carried us through millennia of setbacks.”

C Optimists have plenty to be happy about. In other words, if you can convince yourself that things will get better, the odds of it happening will improve because you keep on playing the game. In this light, optimism “is a habitual way of explaining your setbacks to yourself,” reports Martin Seligman, the psychology professor and author of “Learned Optimism.” The research shows that when times get tough, optimists do better than pessimists. They succeed better at work, respond better to stress, suffer fewer depressive episodes, and achieve more personal goals.

D Studies also show that belief can help through times of financial difficulties. Chad Wallens, a social forecaster at the Henley Centre who surveyed middle-class Britons’ beliefs about income, has found that “the people who feel wealthiest, and those who feel poorest, actually have almost the same amount of money at their disposal. Their attitudes and behavior patterns, however, are different from one another.”

E Optimists have something else to be cheerful about; in general, they have greater longevity. For example, a study of 660 volunteers by the Yale University psychologist Dr. Becca Levy found that thinking positively adds an average of seven years to your life. Other American research claims to have identified a physical mechanism behind this. A Harvard Medical School study of 670 men found that the optimists have significantly better lung function. The lead author, Dr. Rosalind Wright, believes that attitude somehow strengthens the immune system. “Preliminary studies on heart patients suggest that, by changing a person’s outlook, you can improve their mortality risk,” she says.

G Few studies have tried to ascertain the proportion of optimists in the world. But a 1995 nationwide survey conducted by the American magazine Adweek found that about half the population counted themselves as optimists, with women slightly more optimistic than men (53 percent versus 48 percent) to see the sunny side.

H Of course, there is no guarantee that optimism will insulate you from hard times, but the best strategy is still to keep smiling and thank your lucky stars. Because (as every good sports coach knows) adversity is character-forming, so long as you practice the skills of resilience. Research among tycoons and business leaders shows that the path to success is often littered with failure, such as a record of sackings, bankruptcies and blistering castigation. But instead of curling into a ball beneath the coffee table, they resiliently pick themselves up, learn from their pratfalls and march boldly towards the next opportunity.

I The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma or tragedy. A resilient person may go through difficulty and uncertainty, but he or she will doggedly bounce back. Optimism is one of the central traits required in building resilience, say Yale University investigators in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. They add that resilient people learn to hold on to their sense of humor and this can help them to keep a flexible attitude when big changes of plan are warranted. The ability to accept your lot with equanimity also plays an important role, the study adds.

J One of the best ways to acquire resilience is through experiencing a difficult childhood, the sociologist Steven Stack reports in the Journal of Social Psychology. For example, short men are less likely to commit suicide than tall guys, he says, because shorties develop psychological defense skills to handle the bullies and social stigma that their lack of stature attracts. By contrast, those who enjoyed adversity-free youths can get derailed by setbacks later on because they’ve never learned any coping strategies.  If you are handicapped by having had a happy childhood, then practicing proactive optimism can help you to become more resilient. Studies of resilient people show that they take more risks. They court failure and learn not to fear it.And despite being thick-skinned, resilient types are also more open than average to other people. Bouncing through knock-backs is all part of the process.

K It’s about optimistic risk-taking - being confident that people will like you. Simply smiling and being warm to people can help. It’s an altruistic path to self-interest - and if it achieves nothing else, it will reinforce an age-old adage: hard times can bring out the best in you.

 
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