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Pollyanna: Spirit of Optimism Born Out of War

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Pollyanna: Spirit of Optimism Born Out of War

Pollyanna: Spirit of Optimism Born Out of War

Pollyanna: Spirit of Optimism Born Out of War

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18456177/18456125" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Hayley Mills starred in the 1960 film, Pollyanna. Loomis Dean/ Time Life Pictures/Getty Images hide caption

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Loomis Dean/ Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

She was cute, she was cheerful, and she was famous for the creation of "the glad game." But today Pollyanna her name is synonymous with optimism — to a fault.

Politicians and scholars alike attribute "the Pollyanna principle" to people who look on the bright side and hope for the best, no matter what.

Liane Hansen explores the roots of Pollyanna's story — as written by Eleanor Porter in 1913, as brought to life by Hayley Mills in the 1960s Disney movie, and as analyzed by psychologists and economists — to see whether this sweetheart's spirit has any place in real life.