Friday, March 25, 2011

Negativity Bias

Is like what it sounds like: we see negativity much stronger than we see positivity.  Makes sense that we evolved this way, given that negative stimuli (an oncoming storm, knife blade, or enemy) could kill us and should instigate a fight or flight response, whereas positive stuff isn't quite as highly emotional straight off--i.e. given the same basic neutral stimulation that skews slightly negative or slightly positive, we weigh the negative more heavily in proportion to the positive.  I suppose the only way to test this is money and what people are willing to pay given current resources, and what they're willing to lose. But, consider that a lot of the fear tactics used in politics is precisely to ensure impending doom that is as immediate as it gets--and naturally, both sides do their fair share of this sort of thing.  If george bush is elected again, it is the end of the world.  For example.  Or, if we drill in alaska, we're going to basically destroy the sanctity of life.  We all have notions of purity and disgust, I suppose, but their presence doesn't ensure accuracy, no matter how strongly felt.

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