Psychology says that brains are designed to react more vehemently to negative stimuli than positive ones, and that’s the primary reason behind the complications associated with a negativity bias. Brain reactions are measured in Event-Related Brain Potential, or ERP, and trial findings suggest that ERP numbers are higher when negative images are presented as compared to occasions when positive images are presented. This triggers the often discussed concept; human beings are hard-wired for negativity.
The results of the “negative bias” are often unpleasant and sometimes disastrous. Seeing the world through a negative filter causes the mind-set to become predisposed towards gloominess, leading to depression. When carried to the extreme, morbid thoughts creep in, and the person may turn suicidal. This is exactly why negative bias should be kept in control, and in some cases, professional psychiatric help should be sought.
Our psychology clinic in San Diego specializes in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) besides other psychological therapy processes. CBT is an established process of restructuring thought patterns through trained response modifications. Scientific research has established that patients who went through practicing cognitive restructuring sessions had a 70% higher chance of eliminating/ reducing negative bias.
At the simplest level, cognitive restructuring can also be practiced individually. Whenever you hear yourself processing some negative thoughts or taking a negative view of the situation, motivate yourself by reframing the stimulus or experience that shaped those thoughts. Learn to break up each episode into the ABC theory i.e., the Antecedent-Behaviour-Consequence theory. Also, learn to recognize that behavior or B shapes consequences ©, which creates new Antecedents (A).
B is the most powerful factor here, and if that can be controlled, neither A nor fear of untoward C can affect you. At our clinic, we hold one-on-one counseling sessions for clients struggling with negative ABC behavioral circles through various scientific techniques. We also give out CBT worksheets that can help create a more practical view of a situation and remove negative bias. It is recommended that you opt for professional CBT sessions in case you are not able to conquer negative bias on an individual level.
The Defusion technique is an exercise of mindfulness used to look at thoughts as mere thoughts rather than a life-changing phenomenon. Defusion teaches people plagued by negative bias to take some steps back and categorize thoughts as logical, emotional, or sporadic. Labeling thoughts is an analytics-driven process, and it can help weed out unnecessary emotional responses like anger, jealousy, and resentment.
Defusion is not easy to achieve initially but once practiced. It helps develop iron control over emotions. Instead of thinking, “I am not intelligent,” defusion teaches the person to think “a thought that I am not intelligent is entering my mind.” By putting objective distance between your persona and your thoughts, you will gain more mastery over them.
The Silver Linings intervention is useful in a group as well as one on one settings. The aim is to modify the outlook towards negative experiences and events by practicing a balanced approach and a positive perspective. The silver lining translates into attempting to identify a positive angle out of every negative situation. This is a kind of mindfully curated, optimistic approach, and in the long run, people practicing the silver lining approach can conquer negative bias most effectively. The silver linings approach guides people through many steps that build up levels of optimism, resilience, cooperativeness, adjustment, and tenacity. All of these are qualities needed for a more balanced life.
Self-awareness is the key to conquer any mental weakness, and that includes negative bias. Develop a habit of checking up on yourself throughout the whole day, and that is how you can better identify your strengths and weaknesses. You can also identify positive and negative thought patterns and figure out how these patterns positively/ negatively affect your life. You can identify negative bias in actual action after you have reached a certain level of self-awareness. And once you learn to do this, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones becomes easy.
Experts suggest that practicing Yoga and Meditation are good ways to inculcate mindfulness and move forward on the path of self-awareness. It is very easy to fall prey to a destructive circle of negative thoughts in these stress-ridden pandemic times. Still, the above-mentioned tools will definitely help you identify and conquer the phenomenon of the negative bias!