Saturday, July 20, 2013

It’s only bad news.

Why do newspapers and TV channels focus so much on bad news? And why do we put up with it?

Doesn't it get tiring to have to listen to stories of rape, murders, terror, food poisoning, accidents, illnesses, and other bad news all the time? Why don't we resist this relentless bombardment of bad news?

Apparently, we can't. The 'negativity bias' is hardwired in our brain.

As we were evolving as human beings, our sensory systems were tuned to pick up only the 'danger signals' from all the audio-visual data around us and to forward the filtered information to the amyglada in the temporal lobe of our brains. This was a vital part of our survival instinct. As this article explains:
The amygdala is our danger detector.  It's our early warning system.  It literally combs through all of the sensory input looking for any kind of a danger on putting in on high alert and it evolved during an era of human evolution that was of the immediate type, the tiger in the bush.  You would hear a rustle in the leaves and you would think tiger, not wind and the point—one percent of the time that it was a tiger it saved your life, but today the amygdala literally calls our attention to all the negative stories and if you see a thousand stories you're going to focus on the negative ones and the media takes advantage of this and you know the old saw if it bleeds it leads.  
Well that's why 90% of the news in the newspaper and on television is negative because that's what we pay attention to.
So, even if there's some good news, for example, that the country's economy is picking up well this year, there will be a cautionary caveat that will accompany that statement to convey a serious flip side – that this is unlikely to be sustained due to poor rainfall in some parts of the country. Your brain is alert to negative signals and it is the bounden duty of the media to oblige you and, in the process, earn some money for themselves.

It's hopeless. Don't expect any good news. ( There, I've fed something for your amygdala to chew on)

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