This common rhetorical question is often used as a test for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty), or to show that the same situation can be viewed (framed) in different lights, interpreted from different perspectives.
Scientific studies show that if the glass was previously full and then emptied to the half mark there is a greater tendency to call the glass half empty and vice versa. In other words, our recent experience and observations greatly impact our framing. I call this the “pendulum effect,” the tendency of people to over-weight recent events. This can lead to both market bubbles and market panics, over extremes in both cases.
This question also is useful to test the limits we tend to impose on our thinking, usually without conscious intent. Perhaps the glass is neither half empty or half full but either too large or too small?
Being both a realistic optimist and a radiant optimist, as well as a possibility thinker with an incurable solution-oriented mindset, I tend to think of the glass, any glass, as being FULL. In this case, half full of water and half full of air. And if you don’t value air, trying living without it!
What do you see? How aware are you of your frames? How often do you challenge them? How open are you to other points of view When was the last time you changed your mind? Stretched your mind? Truly opened your mind?
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury; English banker, politician, naturalist, and archaeologist