Browse Definitions :
Definition

negativity bias

Contributor(s): Trea Lavery

Negativity bias is a form of cognitive bias which causes humans to subconsciously place more significance on negative events than positive ones, affecting behavior and cognition.

There are four demonstrated forms of negativity bias: negative potency, negative gradients, negativity dominance and negative differentiation. Negative potency gives a negative event or object more subjective weight than an equally positive event or object. For example, criticism is more likely to be remembered than praise. Negative gradients are closely related to negative potency. This aspect of the negativity bias makes negative events seem more negative as they come closer than positive events seem more positive. In other words, although positive and negative events will incite more and more emotion as they approach, this effect will be stronger with negative events than positive ones. For example, an approaching surgery will incite more and more anxiety as the date comes closer; an impending party or celebration will bring more excitement as it comes closer, but the increase in positive emotion will not be as high as the increase in negative emotion.

The next type of negativity bias, negativity dominance, makes the sum of all aspects of a situation seem more negative than positive. For example, if a person who has consistently performed well makes a mistake right before being reviewed for a promotion, they might be passed over for the promotion because the one mistake outweighs all of their previous good work. Conversely, someone who consistently performs poorly would not be awarded a promotion for doing well on one project. This type of negativity bias is especially important in product, software and website design and testing, because if a user finds something they dislike about a product they will most likely feel negatively toward the product as a whole.

Negative differentiation is a type of negativity bias which causes negative events or emotions to seem more complicated and require more cognitive attention. This is evidenced by the much higher number of words in the English language, and most other languages, describing negative emotions than positive ones.

Many psychologists agree that the negativity bias evolved as a survival technique. Assuming the worst of a situation that turns out not to be dangerous is much safer than not expecting danger that turns out to be present. The negativity bias also affects learning to promote survival: Both humans and animals have been shown to learn a behavior more quickly when exposed to negative stimuli than positive stimuli, sometimes even after being exposed to an extreme stimulus only once (such as in the case of taste aversions or phobias). This is because of the amygdala, the part of the brain most responsible for anger, fear and anxiety, sends negative information directly to long-term memory to provoke the fight-or-flight response, while positive information takes longer to reach memory.

The negativity bias has been studied extensively. The four different types of negativity bias were first described by researchers Paul Rozin and Edward Royzman in 2001. The negativity bias has also been shown to affect brain activity; more electrical activity shows up on brain scans in response to negative stimuli than positive stimuli.

This was last updated in February 2017

Continue Reading About negativity bias

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Has the negativity bias affected your business decisions? How?
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

  • smart contract

    A smart contract, also known as a cryptocontract, is a computer program that directly controls the transfer of digital currencies...

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

SearchSecurity

  • access control

    Access control is a security technique that regulates who or what can view or use resources in a computing environment.

  • ethical hacker

    An ethical hacker, also referred to as a white hat hacker, is an information security expert who systematically attempts to ...

  • two-factor authentication (2FA)

    Two-factor authentication (2FA), sometimes referred to as two-step verification or dual factor authentication, is a security ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • virtual disaster recovery

    Virtual disaster recovery is a type of DR that typically involves replication and allows a user to fail over to virtualized ...

  • tabletop exercise (TTX)

    A tabletop exercise (TTX) is a disaster preparedness activity that takes participants through the process of dealing with a ...

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a data center.

SearchStorage

  • Flash Storage

    Flash storage is any type of drive, repository or system that uses flash memory to keep data for an extended period of time.

  • optical disc

    An optical disc is an electronic data storage medium that can be written to and read from using a low-powered laser beam.

  • RAID 0 (disk striping)

    RAID 0 (disk striping) is the process of dividing a body of data into blocks and spreading the data blocks across multiple ...

Close