Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Our Brain’s Negative Bias/ Why Our Brains Are More Highly To Capture Negative Events

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Brain’s “negative thinking” and “negativity” refers to those events that are not constructive and negate our feelings and desires. Conniff’s ideas on negativity stresses that even with all positive things in life, one negative thought or event becomes the focus of attention of a person. According to him problems are in a way part of our life. Only problems lead to success. Because problems crave our way to find solutions and eventually new opportunities in life are established. Until and unless there will be no problem, no one will ever go to work or strive for better.

Hence, our brain has the capability to approach for the solutions in a positive way by positive thinking. Positive thinking makes a person courageous and strong enough to face hardships in life. Positive thinking generates new ideas to work on and prevent one from withdrawal. With every new problem and hardship every person faces some kind of mix attitude and behavior. Some negative feelings are produced that discourages a person and insist on withdrawal. Simultaneously positive thinking encourages us to overcome the problem and find new solutions to tackle it and think of better.

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Positive thinking approaches while negative thinking evokes withdrawal. However, both the systems are distinctly separate and operate independently. Smith et al (2003) demonstrated that negative stimuli grab more attention of the individual than positive stimuli. They measured PI component of ERP (event related brain potential) as an index for measuring attention allocated to particular stimuli. They investigate how the event is processed and how the positive and negative information is differentiated. Positive and negative stimuli evoke attention differentially. Negative stimuli grab attention more than positive stimuli.

Certain negative stimuli capture attention more than negative stimuli which elicit lesser response. This research confirms the idea of confinn’s that negative stimuli evoke stronger response. Researchers measure electric responses. Paul Rozin and Edward Royzman in their research “Negative stimuli, Negative dominance and Contagion” hypothesize that all animals and humans give greater attention to negative and threatening event and stimulus as compared to positive one. According to Peeters et al (1989) the reason that negative stimuli grasp more attention is their infrequent and sudden occurrence.

As positive stimuli are presumed to be natural and everyone is adapted to their occurrence, hence no one is shocked when they occur. But negative stimuli are rare one and it is usually unnatural and unrealistic to have it and no one wants or assumes it to happen, but when it does it creates shock, anger and fear. The negative bias and negative events are more dominant and prevalent as compared to positive ones. Secondly they postulate that there is no urgency in positive stimuli and their frequent occurrence makes us adaptive to it.

But negative stimuli are very rare and sometimes, dangerous and alarming, that requires urgent reaction to it. Negativity always contaminates positivism. Like even small amount of pollution can easily contaminate large area of pure atmosphere. Some negative stimuli are threatening and create fear that produce an urge a need for defense and escape from that environment. Paul Rozin describes three different neural systems designed to escape from danger. The three neural systems are at different levels of Central nervous system.

One is at the level of spinal cord, at limbic system and at the level of cortex. The reflex mechanism at the level of spinal cord let the person withdraw immediately from painful stimulus like touching a hot stove. The person immediately withdrew hand from the stove without giving it a thought and before the stimulus reaches the cortex. Rozin suggests that always being playful and happy may never let us progress in life and look for new opportunities. He also proposes that positive reactions are only short lived while negative actions have long lasting effects.

Even men who have done something wrong their outcomes last even after they die. Further, the effects of negativity are much stronger that even small amount of negative stimuli can destroy positive effects. The example he quoted is that small amount of tar can ruin a whole barrel of honey while a small amount of honey can do nothing to the barrel of tar. Thus, the negative stimuli are much stronger and potent. The chapter 3 in Conniff’s book and the remaining two articles are in conformity with each other support the idea of negativity having more influence than positive events.

I agree with conniff’s idea about negativity bias because in our day to day observation we can see that negative events affect our emotions more strongly than do positive events. One more thing that I can suggest is that negative stimuli evoke stronger response when they occur first time in a sudden. However, the same negative event or stimulus occurring repeatedly can lower the response generated as humans and animals become adaptive to it and gradually they change their environment or behavior in a way to either avoid it or become accommodated with it.

Hence, negative stimuli occurring again and again may not produce same response as that was produced at first time. References Coniff, Richard (2005). The Ape In The Corner Office. Chapter 3 (pp. -33-39). N. Kyle Smitha<*, John T. Cacioppo'0, Jeff T. Larsenc, Tanya L. Chartrandd. May I have your attention, please: Electrocortical positive and negative stimuli. Neuropsychologia 41 (2003) 171-183 Paul Rozin and Edward B. Royzman. Negativity Bias, Negativity Dominance, and Contagion. Personality and Social Psychology Review 2001, Vol. 5, No. 4, 296-320

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Our Brain’s Negative Bias/ Why Our Brains Are More Highly To Capture Negative Events. (2016, Jul 08). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/our-brains-negative-bias-why-our-brains-are-more-highly-to-capture-negative-events/

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