Negativity Bias

October 28 2020



Have you ever wondered why we automatically think negatively when something isn’t going well?  There is actually a scientific term for this: negativity bias.  Back when humans were hunting with spears and running from huge animals trying to eat them, there wasn’t a need to stop and notice how warm the sun felt shinning on a cool morning.  No. That type of thinking would have been deadly.  Scanning your environment for potential threats and expecting the worse was necessary for survival.  Now that Saber-Tooth Tigers are no longer hanging out around the corner to eat us, this instinct or predisposition is no longer necessary.


There is an analogy that neuroscientist Rick Hanson uses in his book Buddha’s Brain that states: “your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.”  That negative experiences stick in our mind where the positive ones just slip on by without us even noticing or acknowledging them.  With the right strategies and tools, this predisposition to see the negative can be counteracted.  One of those is discussed in the this article. It’s called Notice-Shift-Rewire.  Click the link to learn more about each step.


  1. Notice your negativity bias.
  2. Shift to a moment of gratitude.
  3. Rewire your brain. (If you read yesterday’s Tidbit, this is where selective attention comes in)


Intentionally paying attention to the good or neutral things that go on everyday can help rewire the brain.  Over time and with practice, this can become automatic.  This article from Psychology Today goes into a little more detail on how changing your attention can change how you feel.  


Thank you,

Kristeena Dewberry, MA, LPC-S

Basecampus Coach - NEISD

Back to archive