The Science Behind Bad News. In one study conducted by Mcgill University, it was demonstrated that people tend to click on bad news over good news. This was even more true for people who were interested in politics and current affairs. Interestingly enough, those same people said that they prefer good news and said that news media focussed too much on negative stories.
Indicative of negativity bias: our desire to hear, and tendency to remember, bad news. Our brain is simply more sensitive to bad news
But where does this come from?
Evolutionarily, we’re trained to respond quickly to potential threats, or anything that may require us to change our behavior
Another interpretation of Mcgill study
We’re fascinated by bad news because it’s contrary to our beliefs about the world. In general, we tend to think of ourselves as above-average people, a concept called illusory superiority. So when bad things happen, we’re shocked and intrigued. We want to find out more.
Bad news is bad
A combination of these things leads us to click on more bad news stories. But this can start to take a serious toll on us.
In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, it was discovered that individuals who watched just 3 minutes of negative news in the morning were 27% more likely to report being unhappy 6 to 8 hours later.
Alternatively, positive starts to the day have been proven to boost productivity. Data collected at Nationwide found that when they began the workday with a huddle, highlighting good news and rallying around each other, they saw an increase in gross revenue from $600 to $900 million.
Intuitively, this makes sense. Bad news makes us feel bad and makes us perform poorly.
So what now? If both nature and nurture cause me to be drawn towards bad news, but it’s also terrible for my health and wellbeing, what am I supposed to do?
Well, here are a few solutions.
-Turn off news alerts
Breaking news is rarely good news, instead of being constantly inundated with it, choose a time to read or watch the news during the day
-Seek out positive news media
There are a bunch of news outlets that are solely dedicated to putting positive news into the world. A few of my favorites are Good News Network and Positive. News are a few of my favorite ones. Starting out the day with these types of stories, instead of the latest crisis or catastrophe, are proven to boost your mood.
-Monitor the content that you consume
Let’s face it, the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
To be a responsible and informed citizen, you have to read all the news, good and bad. However, you can still make this less detrimental by actively monitoring the tone of the news media that you take in. Follow news outlets that tend to be more solution-focused, rather than those that paint every day as though the world will be ending tomorrow.
In summary, we are, for numerous reasons, predisposed to click on bad news all the time. But it can start to have some serious effects. So take the time to really consider the way in which you take the news in, and it can have a significant boost on your overall outlook and attitude.
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