Julie Norem, a psychology professor at Wellesley College, explores Defensive Pessimism in her 2002 book, The Positive Power Of Negative Thinking. In short, Defensive Pessimists expect the worst, but are proactive in planning against it. Thus they are more prepared, while reducing anxiety levels.
Olga Khazan interviews Norem at The Atlantic (Follow the link to read the entire interview):
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Olga Khazan: What is defensive pessimism?
Julie Norem: It’s a strategy for dealing with anxiety and helping to manage anxiety so that it doesn’t negatively influence performance. If you feel anxious in a situation, it doesn’t really matter if it’s realistic or not, you feel how you feel. It’s hard not to feel that particular way. If you feel anxious, you need to do something about it. Usually people try to run away from whatever situation makes you anxious. But there are other ways of dealing with it.