We’re a nation wired for negative news


Why does the media tend to focus only on negative news?

Why do we hear more about murders, war and corruption more than we do about friendly neighborhood festivities, peaceful revolutions, and acts of kindness?

In fact, continual bad news can stimulate depression, work people up emotionally, and even make people more likely to make bad decisions.

So why are we drawn to it?

One theory suggests that humans seek out dramatic and negative events. Since we evolved from a hunter-gatherer mind set, anything dramatic must be attended to immediately. Therefore, we are drawn to any negative, dramatic event because it requires our immediate attention.

Another theory suggests that we tend to care more about the threat of bad things than we do about the prospect of good things. Since we tend to be more fearful than happy, our negative brain tripwires are much more sensitive than our positive ones.

The last theory relates to probability. The probability of something bad happening in a small town is much smaller than something bad happening in a large town. This is why local news tends to have less bad news. But most people watch nationwide and worldwide news where the coverage is widespread thus making the news more negative.

All theories point to the same conclusion. We are internally wired to seek out negative and dramatic events, and when we find them, we share them.

So how do we fix this?

It seems the only way to fix the negativity of news is to change the negativity in our views. When we change our habits, and see through a “glass half full” lens, our brains develop a positive perspective that can spread to other people like a virus.

By applying a positive perspective to our attitudes and behaviors we can encourage our news media to present a balanced and multidimensional point of view rather than just reinforcing a negative one.

For more information visit http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201012/why-we-love-bad-news.

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