Why We Focus on the Negative

Symposium 2014 Presenter Rick Hanson Explains the Evolution of the Negativity Bias

Much can be made of the power of positive thinking, but the real question is, why do we tend toward the negative in the first place?

Networker Symposium keynote speaker and workshop presenter Rick Hanson has a lot of insight to offer into the negativity bias that is ingrained in us. It all began with our early ancestors who had to learn (and quickly!) that the primary rule of living in the wild was eat, or be eaten.

The human brain is continuously trying to learn from experience, so this lesson has stuck with us through the years. Negative experiences—like being prey in the wild—leave an impression that is fast-tracked into the part of our memory that focuses on learning.

Check out the clip below from one of our webcast series where Rick talks in depth about the origins of the negativity bias:

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist with an interest in the intersection of psychology, neurology, and Buddhism, and an invited presenter at Oxford, Stanford, and the University of California at Berkeley. He’s the author of 15 books, including Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. This clip is taken from his session in our brain science video course:

Brain Science Matters
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