Predilection for negativity

Human beings seem to be wired for negativity. Research conducted in 2001* determined that 62% of every known ‘emotion’ word in the English language was negative versus 38% positive. The same study examined hundreds of articles on psychology and concluded that for a wide range of human behaviour and perception, bad is stronger than good.

I guess I touched on this a few weeks ago when I had a pop at Dilbert fans.

When people are shown photographs of bad and good events, they spend more time looking at the bad ones. When people learn bad things about people they remember it more than the good things. Marital problems and skin conditions sell magazines. Misery, depravity and dysfunction attracts viewers – just ask Jeremy Kyle.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid gratuitous negativity on this blog. Not completely; that would be unreasonable. If I can achieve two thirds positivity versus one third negativity I’ll be happy as that will represent a positive contribution to blogosphere and I will be doing my bit to combat the human predilection for negativity.

I will lose readers for sure. I read the other day that two out of the top 3 global HR blogs for quality and influence are the ‘seasoned and cynical’ Laurie Ruettimann’s Punk Rock HR, where ‘team building is for suckers’, and My Hell is Other People, written by an anonymous British HR Director. I had a good look around both and they are without doubt a damn good read – but not because of their rosy outlook on life!

*Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Finkenauer & Vochs (2001) “Bad Is Stronger than Good” Review of General Psychology, pages 323-370.

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