Why does a bad impression last longer than a good one? Why does losing money affect us more than gaining it? What makes phobias so hard to shake?
The answer is the negativity bias – or in other words, the power of bad. As John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister show, we are wired to react to bad events more strongly than good ones. It makes sense in evolutionary terms, but in our modern world the lure of bad is more powerful than ever. It governs our moods, drives marketing and dominates the news. It can explain everything from why wars start or couples divorce, to why we mess up job interviews or feud with neighbours.
But there is good news. By using smart strategies from new science, we can train our brains to get better at spotting our own negativity bias, fighting back with our rational minds to manage the bad in our lives – and even using its power for positive results.