Are we more likely to believe that negative things are true?

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An effect observable across many different domains is that negative instances tend to be more influential than comparably positive ones. This phenomenon has been termed the negativity bias. In the current work, it was investigated whether this effect pertains to judgments of truth. That is, it was hypothesized that information valence and perceived validity should be associated such that more negative information is deemed more true. This claim was derived from the findings that negative instances tend to demand more attentional resources and that more elaborate processing can render messages more persuasive. In three experiments, manipulating information valence through framing – and assessing judgments of truth – the hypothesized negativity bias was corroborated. Potential explanations and implications for further research are discussed.

Source: “Sad, thus true: Negativity bias in judgments of truth” from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 45, Issue 4, July 2009, Pages 983-986

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