HR  317   

 Bad is Stronger than Good

Stuart Levine

M . . . .




Cross-listed:  Psychology  A year or so ago a photography/psychology student discovered, or at least conjectured although not yet proven, that photographically conveying a sad or negative scene to a viewer was somehow easier then doing so for a cheerful landscape.  Why do we more easily recognize and register the bad and why is it more salient in our lives than the good?  The so-called negative bias that “bad is stronger than good" has been found across a wide array of psychological literature in both human and animal life.  This demonstrated from Asch (1946) within his work on impression formation and in more recent literature surveys [Baumeister (2001); Rozin and Royzman (2001)] This bias moreover is consistent over a myriad of topics such as: social relations; emotions; mood; learning and even information processing; physiological arousal; and memory. In this seminar we examine studies across the domain of psychology and other disciplines to show that the phenomena is sufficiently ubiquitous so as to reflect and perhaps even explain the events sensed and perceived in our life space. Observe how the bad dominates the daily report in the media.  What does this phenomenon mean with respect to the presence or absence of optimism and associated behavior, or for the conduct of child rearing or the power of the variable of happiness and other positive life circumstances?  Moreover, an effort to find non-confirming data produces a negative result.  No matter the variable studied bad exists at the center of our focus while good is relegated to the periphery.  This is an upper college seminar for students of many disciplines. Class size: 10