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Negative bias: Understanding the concept

Hey Bloomers! 🌼 Has one thing ever gone wrong and ruined your entire day? Today we’re going to discuss a concept known as negative bias. Negative bias is responsible for a lot of bad days. My hope is that after reading this article, you’ll be more aware of this bias and hence not allow it to ruin your days. After all, it’s difficult to change what we’re unaware of. Or win a fight we don’t even know we’re a part of. 

This article will be divided into 3 sections namely:

  1. Defining and explaining negative bias 
  2. How negative bias manifests 
  3. How to win the fight against negative bias 

1. Defining and explaining negative bias

The first definition is taken from Very Well Mind. On this website, negative bias is defined as our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. Or as perfectly put by Healthline, “we humans have a tendency to give more importance to negative experiences than to positive or neutral experiences. This is called the negativity bias”.

Simply put, these definitions are explaining that when bad things happen, we tend to notice them more than when more positive things happen. To add on to this problem, we put a lot of importance on these negative events and think about them so much more than we’d think about positive or neutral events. That’s what negative bias is. It’s us giving more weight to the negative, because that’s how the human mind operates. This is all due to evolution, and how our ancestors dealt with threats. Our ancestors lived in difficult environments. They had to gather food while avoiding deadly obstacles. Noticing, reacting to, and remembering predators and natural hazards (negative) became more important than finding food (positive) – (Healthline). This is why negative bias is still a part of how we function as human beings.

2. How negative bias manifests

It is easier to pick up instances in your daily life when negative bias is at play if we discuss some of the ways in which it manifests. Do you remember the question I asked at the beginning of this article? “Has one thing ever gone wrong and ruined your entire day”? This is how negative bias manifests. Let’s get more specific with the example. 

You wake up and get ready to start your day. Everything is going well until you get to the car and it refuses to start. After multiple attempts, you realise that you can’t use the car today. Now you have to look for another way to get to work. You make a few calls and finally find someone to help you out.

When you get to work, you find out that there’s free coffee being served. “I would have enjoyed this if I wasn’t having such a bad day”. In the afternoon, your friend takes you out for lunch. “Thank you for this friend, I just wish I wasn’t having such a bad day”. In the evening, your co-workers want you all to have a celebratory dinner for the account the team landed. “I’d have loved to guys, but I’m having such a bad day”. 

Time to dissect this day…

So basically, the only bad thing that has happened in this day is that the car wasn’t working and alternative arrangements to get to work had to be made. But what happened after that? Awesome things. There was free coffee. Lunch with a friend. Succeeded in getting the account. And a celebratory dinner. But you allowed allllll that awesomeness to be clouded by one bad thing that happened in the morning. You kept thinking about the one thing that went wrong instead of all the other things that went right. It’s not your fault though 💔 We can blame negative bias. 

  • Many people say the moment they waived at a person in public who wasn’t waving at them lives rent free in their heads 😂 Negative bias is such a strong thing. This takes us to the third section of the article.

3. How to win the fight against negative bias

The next logical step is to understand how the fight against negative bias can be won. And one answer can be found in something I speak about alllll the time: Journaling 📔. Another solution is reframing. 

a) Journaling

I previously wrote a blog post about keeping a gratitude journal, and this is one of the instances where it’s going to come in handy. As I explained there, a gratitude journal is a personal record where you put down the things that you are thankful for. It’s most effective when done daily. Every single day, believe it or not, there is something to be thankful for. It may be big, or it may be “small”, but there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. A gratitude journal is therefore used to record all these things that you are grateful for daily. 

How can this be used to fight against negative bias? Well, when you seem to be having a “bad day”, you just have to pull out that gratitude journal. What you’ll find are so many things that you’re grateful for, things that are going well in your life. Having a look through the journal will give you much needed perspective so that you may shift your thinking from “how awful your day is” to thankfulness. 

b) Reframing

According to Very Well Health, how you talk to yourself about events that occur influences the way you interpret these events. When you find yourself interpreting something in a negative way, or only focusing on the bad aspect of the situation, look for ways to reframe the events in a more positive light. This doesn’t mean ignoring potential dangers or wearing rose-colored glasses—it simply means refocusing so that you give fair and equal weight to good events (Very Well Health). So summarised, the answer is in your interpretation. You should train yourself to look at both the good and the bad, instead of just focusing on the bad. 

I may write another article on more ways to deal with negative bias. If you’re interested, you can just let me know in the comments section below 💓 Just know that the fact that you’re aware of this bias is already a step in the right direction. 

Closing remarks

Negative bias may ruin more than just your day. You may even fixate on the negative things that happened in a particular month, and allow that to ruin the rest of the year. As always, the advice is to give yourself time to feel what you need to feel, but not allow it to consume you 💓

To the returning subscribers, thank you for your support! I truly appreciate it. If you’re new, thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the article enough to SUBSCRIBE below 👇🏾and become a Bloomer 🥰

5 replies on “Negative bias: Understanding the concept”

Thank you Ruva. This is such a powerful article. I realise that negative bias has not only ruined my days, but often my nights as well. Going forward, as I go to bed, I will focus on the positive things that would have happened during my day, now that I understand what negative bias is. You are such a blessing and a wise young woman.

🥺🥺🥺 This is such a beautiful comment. I’m glad that understanding negative bias has helped you ❤️ And thank you for these kind words!!! ❤️❤️❤️ Literally the best 🥰

How true! We actually describe our bad experiences in extremes…” this is the worst day of my life” etc Then spoil everyone else’s day in the process! Learning everyday! Happy bloomer!🌻🌼

“Then spoil everyone else’s day in the process”. Wow 🙌🏾 Thank you for that, because it really does affect others too.

😁🥰❤️ Happy Bloomers are my favourite thing!!

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