Are we more susceptible to negative emotion than positive emotion?

Are we more susceptible to negative emotion than positive emotion?

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This is a discussion on Are we more susceptible to negative emotion than positive emotion? within the General Psychology forums, part of the Topics of Interest category; To me, it seems like a really fucked up trauma has more impact than a euphoric experience. Falling in genuine ...

  1. #1

    Are we more susceptible to negative emotion than positive emotion?

    To me, it seems like a really fucked up trauma has more impact than a euphoric experience. Falling in genuine love seems to be one of the most euphoric experiences we humans can partake in, and even that can be fleeting. People can move on from love relatively easily, but a trauma, most struggle all their lives attempting to move on from a serious one of those.

    It's like when people patronize me. If I'm struggling at something and someone is like 'Hey good job, keep going!', it would have no effect what-so-ever, I'd continue at my mediocre pace and maybe finish the task. But if some smug cunt was like 'Nice job, maybe you'll be done next decade,' I would do everything in my power to get it finished as quickly as possible just so I can give them the finger and feel amazing.

    There seems to be some sort of 'FUCK YOU' attitude when faced with negativity, at least when it's something that really gets under the skin. Whereas positivity is always met with a forced smile and a meagre feeling that disappears after half an hour.

    Maybe I feel this way because I live a somewhat privileged and easy life, one devoid of any real negativity, as if I've literally come to take all the positivity around me for granted. That's definitely a plausible explanation.

    What do you think? Would you say that traumatic experiences have had more impact on you than your euphoric ones?
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  2. #2

    The neutral ones are least likely to cause any sort of reaction. But both the serious trauma and the ecstatic/euphoric ones will have a major influence. That's why some people develop PTSD after a serious trauma, and some become addicted to people or things that give them that amazing feeling of elation that they can't get enough of. But in general, you're right, for whatever reason, bad things have a stronger effect than good ones. We are designed that way.

  3. #3

    Perhaps this relates to why negative news is so much more talked about than positive news. Think of how many good stories we've heard about the police lately... Or the last time you remember how nice traffic was one day. Negative reactions are much more powerful, and generate more views/discussion/$$$ for the reporters. This is what makes it so tempting to just check out of current events, debate topics, politics, and certain social media circles. You become self-aware of your reactions and realize that it's mostly not worth it.

    I'll be curious to see if people think it's because of upbringing, or just a fact we all face as humans. Like OP I had a mostly positive, easy life growing up, no big complaints. I was also however very repressive of negative emotions. I learned to rarely show anger; it never got me anywhere as a kid, so why display it? Also not to arbitrarily throw MBTI into this, but I am an INFP... I think we all have our push-able buttons.

    This is going to sound horrible, but I didn't get to show negative emotions much until a) big fight with my evil ex, and b) my first jobs working in schools. I can't really get away with shouting at coworkers in a traditional job, but kids? I think all teachers/people working in schools/maybe parents kinda know about this. I'm/most of us are not intentionally mean, or act like a drill Sargent, but there's times, boy there are times... I used to work recess duty, which most of the time is fun, but you have to keep the students safe. One of my buttons, apparently, is when students are intentionally hurting/disrupting each other. The school I worked in had an issue with students playing too rough with soccer (tripping, pushing, intentionally kicking). I got to play the role as a ref, and kicked out kids who couldn't play safe. One kid as I was kicking him out said something to the effect of "What? I thought this was America!" (cue Stan Marsh). I said some kind of witty retort, but the important thing was as I sent him away I started a USA! USA! chant. I'm a bastion of maturity...

  4. #4

    Quote Originally Posted by Laze View Post
    To me, it seems like a really fucked up trauma has more impact than a euphoric experience. Falling in genuine love seems to be one of the most euphoric experiences we humans can partake in, and even that can be fleeting. People can move on from love relatively easily, but a trauma, most struggle all their lives attempting to move on from a serious one of those.

    It's like when people patronize me. If I'm struggling at something and someone is like 'Hey good job, keep going!', it would have no effect what-so-ever, I'd continue at my mediocre pace and maybe finish the task. But if some smug cunt was like 'Nice job, maybe you'll be done next decade,' I would do everything in my power to get it finished as quickly as possible just so I can give them the finger and feel amazing.

    There seems to be some sort of 'FUCK YOU' attitude when faced with negativity, at least when it's something that really gets under the skin. Whereas positivity is always met with a forced smile and a meagre feeling that disappears after half an hour.

    Maybe I feel this way because I live a somewhat privileged and easy life, one devoid of any real negativity, as if I've literally come to take all the positivity around me for granted. That's definitely a plausible explanation.

    What do you think? Would you say that traumatic experiences have had more impact on you than your euphoric ones?
    I completely think you are on the right track when you talk about easy life. But it's not the devoid of real negativity that is true. That is there. I promise you. What is missing is real practical hell threats like war, beating beat up each and every night, starving, etc. Once you experience those, people yapping their BS ay you still bothers you, even enrages you, but it just doesn't have the same lasting impact.

    It's kind-of the same with non clinical suicides and such. They are WAY more likely in times of relative prosperity. When people start comparing themselves to others and are jealous and envious or shamed rather than clawing for food or a safe place to sleep, the self-image angst goes through the roof.

    The negativity is more psycho-emotional and less physical. The burden comes at you from the past and lingers into the future instead of being DONE here and now. It's a different dimension of negativity.

    And the driving force of it all is largest remaining hurdle for humanity to wake up and decide to tackle. Our cancerous imbalanced desire. It is greed and envy run rampant. All the perceived losses mounting up. Others getting what they want and we experience virtual loss, not even real loss. They have shot we want and we dont. Virtual loss. Trauma!

  5. #5

    I think it's different for each individual and how they have learnt to manage their thoughts, feelings and emotions. For example in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - it is our thoughts that trigger our reactions/emotions - so if you can change or challenge your negative thinking then you should be able to change how you feel. Or according to Eckhart Tolle, 80% of our thinking is useless - we are either stuck in the past bringing negative emotions into the present or stuck in the future thinking about what could go wrong or fantasising about what we would like to happen. So instead of us using the mind/thinking as a tool the mind is using us. So the idea is to quiet the mind and be in the present and only use thinking at specified times.

    With regards to your situation it sounds like you probably react well to reverse psychology, you react more to the challenge of proving someone wrong than to someone trying to encourage you by telling you that you are doing well.

  6. #6

    I've talked about this with my therapist actually, and she did say that negative experiences tend to be easier to recall than positive ones. I've also heard from a TED talk that supposedly psychological traumas/pain physically damages a part of your brain just as much as if you got hit hard on the head. (I need to find that video again, I might not have referred to facts exactly. Lol, forgetful NF brain -_- If only it would also forget the traumatic stuff, but noooo).

    I guess the biological/instinctual reason for that, if any, is for survival. Avoiding things that are known to harm you seems to ensure your survival better than repeating things that had been known to reward you. And because our society develops faster than our bodies evolve, we still react as if things that just make us sad (or REALLY sad) can actually kill us. Hence irrational anxieties (fuck my life).

    Quote Originally Posted by Laze View Post
    But if some smug cunt was like 'Nice job, maybe you'll be done next decade,' I would do everything in my power to get it finished as quickly as possible just so I can give them the finger and feel amazing.
    Hey good for you. If someone does that to me and I happen to be down, it might just make me feel sadder. Because for some weird factor during my teen years, I'm conditioned to helplessness. Just another example of how negative memories are more powerful than positive memories. I didn't even have a terrible life or anything, really privileged actually :|


    Quote Originally Posted by conscius View Post
    some become addicted to people or things that give them that amazing feeling of elation that they can't get enough of.
    Oh yeah, I totally forgot about addicted to feel-good stuff. But it's ironic that something that's too rewarding can actually be harmful. Mindfuck. Also I don't know if I'm using the world "ironic" properly. Alanis Morissette mindfuck.
    Last edited by ficsci; 04-18-2015 at 10:55 AM.
    Cerridwen and conscius thanked this post.

  7. #7

    Quote Originally Posted by ficsci View Post
    I've also heard from a TED talk that supposedly psychological traumas/pain physically damages a part of your brain just as much as if you got hit hard on the head.
    Really? That's fascinating. I'll look this up when I finally manage to pull the claws GTA online has in me.
    ficsci thanked this post.

  8. #8

    Human beings' greater focus on negative over positive is an evolutionary trait. Before modern society, before society itself, we weren't as cognitively capable as we are now and this is because of evolution. It is DNA's goal to reproduce and this reproduction instinct was much stronger back in the times of cave men. Good things don't kill. Bad things can. Bad things posed more of a threat than good things were a treat. Therefore, Human minds developed to be more sensitive and aware of the dangerous things in life, of the things that make us feel bad. We still do it today and for the most part, that's what we'd call a "vestigial" facet. Out dated, un-needed.

  9. #9

    Quote Originally Posted by ficsci View Post
    I've also heard from a TED talk that supposedly psychological traumas/pain physically damages a part of your brain just as much as if you got hit hard on the head.
    Ah yes, I believe this to be true, more so with children though. I have a friend who studied drama therapy and part of her research revealed that physical, mental and emotional abuse actually causes damage to a child's brain. I think children are more susceptible because their brains are still developing.
    ficsci thanked this post.


     

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