The Negativity Effect

The Negativity Effect is the human brain's tendency to focus more on negative events than positives ones. (Source: We more readily absorb negative events to the extent that studies show increased brain activity during the negative stimulus. Over time this can bleed into our personal lives and we might start to notice:

  • Dwelling on negative events and situations
  • More vividly recalling negative events
  • Remembering insults and criticism but not compliments
  • Making decisions based on avoidance of negative results

In the field of law enforcement, the negativity effect can be a blessing as it helps officers to seek potential threats in every situation. However, this often leads to negative consequences in the officers' personal lives too as the negativity can be reinforced by the traumatic situations a law enforcement job brings with it.

Left unchecked, an overactive negativity effect can lead to mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and even PTSD. It can be beneficial for law enforcement officers and other first responders to learn coping methods to help manage the negativity effect before it gets out of control. A behavior health consultant can be a valuable resource in managing this.

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