Negativity effect thinking

Let us start with a type of stupid thinking called “negativity effect” as this is something that commonly happens in many of us.

In our lives, we all have positive experiences (e.g. getting a promotion at work) and negative experiences (e.g. losing an expensive mobile phone). Unfortunately, the human brain can have the tendency to make the mistake of giving more than needed importance to the negative experiences while mostly ignoring the positive experiences. This increased focus on negative events can make one unnecessarily feel that things are worse than they really are. Psychologists have named this kind of stupid thinking as the “negativity effect” and it is quite an important one to be wary of, as if it happens too often, it can lead one to having a low mood or even depression.

The example below shows how the negativity effect can be harmful.


Joe works in a financial company and was asked to give four important presentations at a company meeting. Joe worked really hard on his presentations and was well prepared.

On the day, he gave four excellent presentations. They were well written, delivered clearly and had nice clear diagrams. Each presentation was followed by a question and answer session. At the first three presentations, Joe answered all the questions perfectly. However, at the last presentation, he made a small mistake when answering one of the questions and this made some of the members in the audience laugh. However, at the end of the day, everyone applauded Joe for his excellent presentations.

However, when Joe returned to his home on that day, he became very depressed. All that he thought about was that one question he answered wrongly. His brain was stupidly ignoring all the positive experiences of the day where he had made four excellent presentations and had answered all questions except one, perfectly. That one negative episode overshadowed the otherwise perfect day, making Joe unnecessarily feel depressed. In reality, instead of being depressed, he should have been overjoyed by the overall good performance he had done on the day.


So in your life, to prevent unnecessary distress, it is important to guard against your brain making the negativity effect type of stupid thinking. Try to give importance to both positive and negative experiences in a balanced way, instead of only seeing the negative aspects. You should feel good about the positive experiences and learn from the negative experiences.