In this post, we’ll unpack all you need to know about Negative Bias, defining exactly what it is, why we have it, how it impacts the brain, how to overcome it and more.
What Is Negative Bias?
Negative Bias (NB) is a cognitive bias that results in the tendency for humans to pay more attention to perceived negative experiences over perceived positive experiences.
The Evolutionary Perspective
From an evolutionary perspective, those who paid more attention to potential threats instead of potential opportunities were more likely to survive and reproduce. In other words, we are the descendants of those who were more sensitive to cues of potential threats instead of cues that were potential rewards.
For example, it would have been better to overestimate threats and it’s a false alarm than to underestimate threats and you’re eaten by the sabre-toothed tiger.
While we live in Modern Age times, we still bear Stone Age minds. Fortunately, we can rewire the brain by consciously choosing to focus on positive experiences.
NB is why 9 good things could happen and 1 bad thing could happen, yet we’d find ourselves focusing on the single bad things.
It is also behind what is known as loss aversion. This refers to how the pain of losing is psychologically more powerful than the pleasure of gaining. For example, the thought of losing £10 has a greater cognitive impact than the thought of gaining £10.
How To Overcome Negative Bias
The key to overcoming Negative Bias is to develop the habit of focusing on positive experiences instead of negative experiences. The more we focus on positive experiences, the more habitual it will become.
When we shift our focus from negative experiences to positive experiences, we shift our emotional state. When we shift out emotional state, we shift how we perceive, experience and interact with the world around us.
NB refers to the human tendency to give more weight to perceived negative experiences instead of positive experiences.
The key to overcoming NB is to create the habit of focusing on positive experiences. The more we focus on positive experiences, the more automatic it becomes.