Let's stay positive in the face of the power of the bad!

By Philippe Batreau

One program from France Culture among others caught my attention, "Let’s stop seeing everything in black: put an end to the “negativity bias” "

According to the various studies on the subject, we tend to retain more bad news than good, to be more affected by a loss than satisfied with the equivalent gain. Everyone can see it every day, for themselves by taking a step back or for others more easily.

This bias, which some say is hereditary, pollutes our daily lives, the bad news preventing us from savoring the good news, from taking the pleasure of living, from experiencing joy.

Negativity bias

This negativity bias was highlighted by Paul Rozin and Edward B. Royzman in the article “ Negativity Bias, Negativity Dominance, and Contagion Published in Personality and Social Psychology Review in 2001.

Here is an excerpt from their introduction - translated by me:

"We hypothesize that there is a general bias, based both on innate predispositions and on experience, in animals and humans, to give more weight to negative entities (for example, events, objects, personal traits). This manifests itself in 4 ways:

(a) negative power (negative entities are stronger than equivalent positive entities),

(b) steeper negative gradients, the negativity of negative events grows faster with their approach in space or in time than the positivity of positive events,

(c) dominance of negativity (combinations of negative and positive entities give more negative assessments than the algebraic sum of individual subjective valences would predict), and

(d) negative differentiation (negative entities are more varied, produce more complex conceptual representations and engage a broader repertoire of responses).

We examine the evidence for this taxonomy, emphasizing the dominance of negativity, including literary, historical, religious and cultural sources, as well as psychological literatures on learning, attention, forming impressions , contagion, moral judgment, development and memory. a variety of theoretical accounts of negativity bias. We suggest that a characteristic of the negative events that make them dominant is that negative entities are more contagious than positive ones. "

We can, if not must compensate, as John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister encourage the authors of The Power of Bad (and how to overcome it?), quoted in this same broadcast by France Culture.

Find theinterview on CBS of one of the authors, John Tierney to transform this negativity into positive change.

How to overcome this negativity?

To note in particular the rule of 4:

· 4 good things overcome 1 bad

· 4 compliments offset 1 negative review.

"Why are we devastated by a word of criticism even if it is mixed with lavish praise? Because our brains are wired to focus on the bad. This negativity effect explains the big and small things: why countries go into disastrous wars, why couples divorce, why people refuse job interviews, how schools fail students, why football coaches stupidly play fourth row. All day long, the power of the bad governs people's moods, conducts marketing campaigns, and dominates news and politics. "

This is the beginning of the introduction of "Power of bad" not yet translated into French. We will notify you if a French translation is published.

In the same spirit as their previous work, The power of will - the authors invite us to know how to overcome negative biases, the power of the bad.