Negativity Bias: What Is It & How To Overcome It?
You read two news stories this morning; one is about criminal activity and the other is about your city getting a new metro service. What is it that attracts you more? Do you find yourself being depressed with the criminal news and being impacted by it more than the positive news? Well, it is common to feel the same way.
However, it is important to understand that the negativity bias or attraction towards negative news influences you more the way you feel, think, act, and even run in your head psychologically.
Let’s dig into the details about negativity bias and figure out how this small psychological thought is playing its role in our lives.
What Is Negativity Bias?
The term ‘Negativity Bias’ is called as:
‘attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive information’ (Vaish et al. 2008) or ‘negative events elicit more rapid and more prominent responses than non-negative events’ (Carretie et al., 2001).
The term bias itself denotes that our mind is processing negative information quicker than positive occurrences. But this becomes one of the reasons why you face change in your own behavior and actions. For example,
- You try to find complaints and insults more than the compliments
- You talk more about the unpleasant events or news rather than positive ones.
- Even if all the day went really well, you ponder upon all the things that didn’t go right. For example, despite enjoying a job promotion, you are thinking about the car tire that punctured on the way.
Why Negativity Bias?
According to the researchers, negative stimuli or negative thoughts helped our ancestors in surviving through tough environments like attacking predators. Although such extensive environments may not be faced today, this negative thinking does help in escaping from potentially harmful situations. For example, you will avoid taking a dark unknown street because of the fear of getting robbed.
Even though this negativity bias is sometimes helpful today, it doesn’t need to stick around with major decisions where taking risks is required.
If examples are concerned:
- A recent research paper in 2019 described that negative news in the media and newspaper is so prevalent because humans are more aroused with such information. Moreover, it’s a cross-national phenomenon and no one country/region could be pointed out.
- If you are still hanging on to something bad that happened recently, it is a human tendency and has been proved by Larsen research papers too.
How To Overcome Negativity Bias & Focus On the Positive Side?
If we actually focus on negativity biases or the negative thoughts, you will find that it is a huge deal. It can take a positive person into depths of mental disorder and that is why it is important to break the negativity bias.
1. Self-Awareness & Thrashing Negative Thinking
If you go through yourself and you recognize your thoughts in depth, you will find that you can thrash your negative thoughts in no time. Can you figure out which thought is helpful or which is not? If yes, you are going to feel better about yourself. When you are self-aware and look at your own behavior, not just you can focus on the positive side but also promote personal development, improved communications and enhanced skills.
2. Mindfulness Exercises
Practicing mindfulness in order to recognize your emotions with each thought, accepting them and negating them are the keys to overcome negativity bias. You can explore various guided meditations and other mindfulness tools to find optimism with each passing day. Even when you are about to think anything negative, your mind will automatically ask you to switch towards the positive side.
3. Savor The Positive Moments
The moment you begin savoring the positive moments, you create memories in the pockets of your mind. These memories keep coming back in the future and build a positive outlook at the same moment you wish to fall on the negative side. So, next time you are enjoying a moment, enjoy a little more than ever. Plant happy and emotional thoughts around it and start reflecting it in your habit.
4. Cognitive Restructuring
Many of the mental disorders like anxiety or depression appear in your lives through negativity bias. The moment you feel that you are not thinking right, practice reframing your thoughts or experiences once again. In fact, visualization techniques are one of the most powerful tools to restructure your situation.
5. Find Silver Lining
Developing resilience and optimism must be a part of your everyday life so that you can find a silver lining in every negative situation of your life. As developed, it becomes easy to identify all those things which are bothering you and solutions cloud out by themselves.
Overcoming negativity bias is possible once you realize that you are in the circle of it. Although many of us deal with negativity bias every day, realizing it and acting upon it is the key to win over the existing mind-boggling issues.