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Something to think about - Negativity bias

Something to Think About

Have you ever noticed that we tend to focus on what’s going wrong with our relationship rather than what’s going right?

This is what psychologists and sociologists refer to as “negativity bias.” Here is an example of how it works in our brains: Imagine going on a beautiful hiking and along the path you run into a rattlesnake. Most of us will remember the rattlesnake incident and forget the details of any positive experiences we had. Rather than looking back at the joy we had prior to the snake encounter all we can think about is how infested the trails are with snakes and how dangerous the trails are. This is classic negativity bias, overgeneralizing the negative experiences and ignoring the positive.

When we experience negativity bias in our romantic relationship what often happens is we assume a negative outcome before it actually happens and often before we have a reason to believe it will turn out negatively. The brain automatically seeks to defend itself from harm that it has experienced in the past, which means we start to the defend or protect ourselves from something that has not even happened yet. It may feel intuitive because we’ve experienced the past and it’s based on our very old reptilian brain and the fight flight response. Unfortunately, negativity bias can cause problems in an otherwise strong relationship.

Where does this show up in your own assessment of your partner?

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