Is the glass half empty or half full?

"Is the glass half empty or half full?" is a common expression, a proverbial phrase, generally used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for pessimism (half-empty) or optimism (half full), or as a general litmus test to simply determine an individual's worldview.[1] The purpose of the question is to demonstrate that the situation may be seen in different ways depending on one's point of view and that there may be opportunity in the situation as well as trouble.[1]

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Another perspective comes from psychology, where research has shown that a speaker's choice of frame can reflect their knowledge of the environment, and that listeners can be sensitive to this information.[2][3]

Technically it is a syntax error since changing the "or" to "and" removes the confusion and allows both conditions to exist at the same time. The question presents the two conditions of the glass as options when in reality the conditions are simultaneous and are not optional.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Stephanie Stokes Oliver (2001-11-27). Seven Soulful Secrets for Finding Your Purpose and Minding Your Mission. Crown Publishing Group. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-0-385-48767-2. Retrieved 2013-08-07. I love that proverbial question, “Do you see the glass as half empty or half full?” It's like the litmus test for how you see the world. Optimists have a tendency to hope for the best. That doesn't mean they hope for the best sometimes. It means that ...
  2. ^ McKenzie, C. R. M.; Nelson, J. D. (2003). "What a speaker's choice of frame reveals: Reference points, frame selection, and framing effects" (PDF). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 10 (3): 596. doi:10.3758/BF03196520.
  3. ^ Sher, S.; McKenzie, C. R. M. (2006). "Information leakage from logically equivalent frames" (PDF). Cognition. 101 (3): 467–494. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2005.11.001. PMID 16364278.