Why do our brains get stuck on negative thoughts and feelings? And how can we get unstuck? This Fig. 1 by University of California video explores the research behind why insults stick with us longer than compliments and why we might hold onto a negative point of view, even when there’s more reason to feel positive about the information. It’s all about “the power of a negative frame.”
Is the glass half full or half-empty? Turns out, the way that you present a situation to people can really change how they feel about it.
Professor Alison Ledgerwood has learned that people need to work hard to see beyond how information is first presented to them. Her research team in the Department of Psychology at UC Davis applies this knowledge to their studies of how negative campaigning works.
Say a candidate proposes a new jobs policy — Jobs Policy A. You don’t know much about it. But one of the first things you hear is that it will save 60 percent of manufacturing jobs. Your friend, meanwhile, is told that 40 percent of jobs will be lost.
It’s the same policy, with the same results, so all else being equal, you and your friend should have a similar outlook on it, right? What research actually finds is that you are more likely to respond favorably, because the information about it has been framed in terms of success. Whereas your friend, who has been thinking of the policy in terms of failure, is not a fan.
Fixating on the negative may be an evolutionary skill, but it’s not always applicable. You can counteract this mindset with practice. Try spending a few minutes every day focusing on the things you’re grateful for, and you may find that this negative bias can diminish over time.
Watch more videos about emotions, the brain, and perception on TKSST, including:
• How To Make Fake Poo, a mini psychology experiment
• How to change anxiety into excitement
• Mindfulness animations on change, calm, and connection
• The psychology behind ‘Us vs Them’