Negativity Bias in Politics

Headshot of Dr. Chris Federico

The Hill’s article, “Liberals find it can be easier to fight for causes than defend them,” explores why liberals did not succeed at protecting the rights under Roe V. Wade and asks the question: is it easier for Democrats to fight for rights rather than defend them?

How can this question be answered through a psychological lens? In behavioral research, there is evidence that the fear of losing something can spur action and decision-making. Christopher Federico elaborates on this concept. He shares that humans are prone to a negativity bias, meaning that individuals react stronger to negative developments. Even if a positive and negative event are of the same magnitude, the negative event will outweigh the positive. This phenomenon is evident in the reaction to abortion rights as the loss of these rights and protective policies is proving to be more motivating than the defense of protective policies. 


Christopher Federico, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Political Science in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota.

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