It's Not a Tiger: Managing  Negativity Bias

Negativity bias is the tendency to focus disproportionately on negative situations or thoughts over positive ones.

From an evolutionary perspective, negativity bias is a valuable tool. In nature, we have better chances of survival by dealing with dangerous or scary things first.

For instance, imagine an early human encountering something great, like tasty berries, and something dangerous, like a tiger, at the same time.

The berries will still be there later. But right now, ignoring the tiger isn't an option. Negativity bias helps this person survive by prioritizing safety.

Today, most of us rarely need to deal with direct survival threats like tigers. But we still have the same wiring, and our minds and bodies still tell us to focus intensely on possible dangers.

Negativity bias is still a helpful instinct, but it doesn't always have the right idea. When it's overactive, it can cause needless stress, and get in the way of happiness.

When you're running on a tight work deadline, negativity bias can fill you with worry about it. The project isn't a tiger, but your body doesn't necessarily know the difference.

When your friend Jessie says something hurtful, he's not a tiger, but the emotional response may feel like he's something similar.

By practicing keeping our negativity bias in check, we can reduce the amount of stress it causes us, and make a path to feeling calmer and happier more of the time. Here are a few ways to that.

Deep Breathing

Breathing is one of the fastest and most effective counters to acute stress. Slowing your breathing sends signals to your body that you are not in danger.

Positive Thinking

By intentionally channeling mental energy into optimism and positive thoughts, you can make it easier to take that path more of the time.


Spending time journaling, thinking, or meditating can help you reflect on your thoughts and emotions to understand them better, equipping you to deal with them more easily.

Swipe up for more ideas and methods for feeling happier and finding mental and emotional peace!