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Negativity and the brain

Negative News and Experiences Shaped Our Attitude and Behaviours

Author and Stanford professor Clifford Nass explains that the brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres of the brain and we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events and use stronger words to describe them than happy ones. Bad emotions, bad memories, bad feedback and bad impressions all have more impact. Psychologists refer to this as negativity bias.

Negative emotions rouse the amygdala, which, according to psychologist Rick Hansen, PhD, uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news. Once it sounds the alarm, significant negative emotional experiences get quickly stored in memory, in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage.”

Neuroscientific evidence has shown that there is greater neural processing in the brain in response to negative stimuli. Studies that involve measuring event-related brain potentials (ERPs), which show the brain's response to specific sensory, cognitive, or motor stimuli, have shown that negative stimuli elicit a larger brain response than positive ones. Because negative information causes a surge in activity in a critical information processing area of the brain, our behaviors and attitudes tend to be shaped more powerfully by bad news, experiences, and information.

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