What Is Negative Bias And How To Overcome It

Do you ever like to get stuck in your thoughts regarding unpleasant encounters or disappointments you’ve had?

Do you find yourself drawn to the more sad topics in the news? Negative occurrences have a much more significant impact on us than happy happenings.

This negativity bias can affect how we feel, think, and act and have unfavorable consequences for our mental health. 

So, how does it appear, and how can we avoid it and overcome negative bias? Continue reading to find out.

What is a negative BIAS?

Our inclination to “attend to, learn from and utilize negative information significantly more than positive information” is the meaning of negativity bias. It’s an asymmetry in how we interpret negative and positive events to perceive our reality, with “negative events generating more quick and prominent responses than non-negative events.” It is the definition of negative bias.

It can explain, among other reasons, why humans frequently:

  • Remember and consider insults more than compliments.
  • Aversive stimuli cause us to respond more emotionally and physically.
  • More time is spent thinking about unpleasant or traumatic occurrences than joyful ones.
  • We tend to focus our attention on negative rather than positive information.

Even if we have many nice things happening to us in one day, negativity bias can drive us to focus on the one terrible thing. It can cause us to obsess over minor details, be concerned about making a poor first impression, and dwell on negative feedback.

What are negative biases and the source of this prejudice?

Can we learn to recognize real-life examples of negativity bias? 

And more importantly, how can we avoid becoming engulfed by unpleasant events?

How to overcome negative bias?

As we’ve seen, negativity bias has a lot to do with focusing our attention. You can start to counteract the asymmetry of negativity bias by devoting more of your conscious attention toward the good events and feelings you have.

And that takes time and effort. So, where shall we begin?

what is negative bias
Overcoming Negative Bias

1. Self-awareness and the ability to confront negative thoughts self-talk

You can start to detect any thoughts racing through your head – both beneficial and unhelpful – by checking in with yourself throughout the day. You can also examine your habits to understand better what is negative bias and isn’t benefiting you.

You may begin to confront these issues head-on, questioning them and replacing them with more beneficial options. The ABC approach of Albert Ellis (1957) is one practical framework you might apply here. You can work backward to think about what negative bias led to your activity or its repercussions (B and C in the model, respectively) once you’ve become aware of them (A for antecedents).

What is negative bias, and what were your thoughts before you felt enraged, resentful, or frustrated? Maybe it was a case of negativity bias in action. And more importantly, how to overcome negative bias, and can you replace those negative thoughts with more positive ones?

2. Breathing exercises, meditations, and more are examples of mindfulness.

One method to become more aware of your own emotions is to practice mindfulness. You can observe your feelings and thoughts more objectively through guided meditations, introspection, and other mindfulness interventions.

Even more hopeful evidence comes from a 2011 study by Kiken and Shook. They discovered that when individuals practiced mindful breathing, they had more positive assessments and optimism.

These participants outperformed control groups in tests requiring them to categorize positive stimuli, prompting the researchers to conclude that mindfulness practice can significantly positively impact the bias.

3. Reorganization of the mind

Negativity biases have been associated with mental illnesses, including despair and anxiety. It may assist in practicing cognitive restructuring by reframing an event or experience when you catch yourself adopting a negative view of things.

4. Take pleasure in the good times

You’re savoring and making memories for the future when you pause and take some time to drink in a great event. Negativity bias predisposes us to imbalance; thus, building up your bank of positive mental images and thoughts might help you overcome it.

Take a bit longer than usual to savor a pleasant moment the next time you experience or create one. Make a note of everything you liked about the pleasurable sensations, pleasant thoughts, and pleasant feelings you are experiencing. Why not think about negative bias and what happens when you get home and make the savoring skill a habit?

A Message for All

We all experience rejection, grief, fear, and dissatisfaction at some point. It helps to be conscious of why we could be hooked on the unpleasant aspects of our lives when we find ourselves getting caught on them. Although we are built to focus on the negative bias, we can retrain our brains to adopt more positive frames of reference and improve our wellbeing.

Positive psychology is more concerned with overcoming negative biases and dealing with opposing ideas and emotions in our daily lives than with removing them. We can begin to interact with unpleasant events, trauma, and other stressful situations more adaptively once we comprehend negativity bias.

So, how do you overcome negative bias? Do you have any recommendations? If you have any, tell us in the comments section below.

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