Quantified behavioural signs of depression in relation to pessimism across cultures. First, by observing workmen in 1985 East and West Berlin bars, we found more behaviour consistent with depression in East Berliners than in West Berliners. We then measured pessimism in both cultures by assessing explanatory style in newspaper reports of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. Despite having more Olympic victories to report, East Berlin newspaper accounts were more pessimistic than West Berlin reports. We suggest that, with proper controls, convergent measurements of explanatory style and behavioural signs consistent with depression allow to quantify pessimism and depression across culture and time.