Choose Meaning and Live Better


Mollie Teitelbaum

When should we tune out (and into) our biases?

We have a bad habit of focusing on people’s superficial, negative qualities. Happiness and fulfillment can be gained by giving weight to what should ultimately guide our behavior: people’s profound, positive qualities. Appreciating these aspects of individuals fosters meaningful and mutually beneficial experiences.

Understanding and Combating Biases

Bias has been getting a lot of attention lately due to a growing understanding of the influences it has on our actions and attitudes outside of our awareness (Banaji & Greenwald, 2013). A phenomenon called negativity bias makes us far more sensitive to negative things than to positive ones. If two disparate events are of equivalent strength, the event that is negative will elicit much greater psychological activity and will impact behavior more (Baumeister, et al., 2001). Evolutionarily, this makes sense as it protects us from harm, but if our default is to dwell on the negative and to ignore the positive, then how can we hope to be happy, optimistic people?

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