Kare Anderson: There’s been lots of negativity in the world lately. Why does it always seem easier to be negative, than positive?
Adam Hansen: When life was mostly lived at the survival level, it was adaptive to see novelty foremost as threat, not as opportunity. The inquisitive types who went to explore the new rumbling in the bushes were more likely to get culled out of the herd. The savants of risk aversion we call “our ancestors.” We come by this negative leaning honestly and it’s still easy to see first the resistance, barriers and even failure when approaching challenges.
Behavioral science tells us there’s a reason why humans have this tendency, and the term is Negativity Bias. This bias is responsible for making negative thoughts or events more prominent in our brains—even when we have an equal amount of positive things going on. For our brains, bad is stronger than good. You can see it in the business colleague who can be relied upon to be the first to criticize new initiatives, or the family member who regularly recites Uncle Fred’s many business failures. As much as we’d like to believe we are supportive and open-minded to new ideas…it isn’t our default mode.