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The negativity bias: Conceptualization, quantification, and individual differences

  • John T. Cacioppo (a1), Stephanie Cacioppo (a2) and Jackie K. Gollan (a3)


There is an extensive literature on the negativity bias, including its conceptualization, measurement, temporal stability (individual differences), and neural and genetic associations. Hibbing et al. posit that the difference across individuals in the negativity bias is a key factor in determining political predisposition. The measures and paradigms developed in this literature provide a means of testing this hypothesis.



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Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C. & Vohs, K. D. (2001) Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology 5(4):323–70.
Cacioppo, J. T. & Berntson, G. G. (1994) Relationship between attitudes and evaluative space: A critical review, with emphasis on the separability of positive and negative substrates. Psychological Bulletin 115:401–23.
Cacioppo, J. T., Berntson, G. G., Norris, C. J. & Gollan, J. K. (2012) The evaluative space model. In: Handbook of theories of social psychology, vol. 1, ed. Van Lange, P., Kruglanski, A. & Higgins, E. T., pp. 5072. Sage.
Cacioppo, J. T. & Gardner, W. L. (1999) Emotion. Annual Review of Psychology 50:191214.
Cacioppo, J. T., Gardner, W. L. & Berntson, G. G. (1997) Beyond bipolar conceptualizations and measures: The case of attitudes and evaluative space. Personality and Social Psychology Review 1:325.
Cacioppo, J. T., Gardner, W. L. & Berntson, G. G. (1999) The affect system has parallel and integrative processing components: Form follows function. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76:839–55.
Crawford, L. E. & Cacioppo, J. T. (2002) Learning where to look for danger: Integrating affective and spatial information. Psychological Science 13:449–53.
Ito, T. A. & Cacioppo, J. T. (2000) Electrophysiological evidence of implicit and explicit categorization processes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 36(6):660–76.
Ito, T. A. & Cacioppo, J. T. (2005) Variations on a human universal: Individual differences in positivity offset and negativity bias. Cognition and Emotion 19:126.
Ito, T. A., Larsen, J. T., Smith, N. K. & Cacioppo, J. T. (1998) Negative information weighs more heavily on the brain: The negativity bias in evaluative categorizations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75(4):887900.
Larsen, J. T. & McGraw, A. P. (2011) Further evidence for mixed emotions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 6:1095–110.
Larsen, J. T., Norris, C. J., McGraw, A. P., Hawkley, L. C. & Cacioppo, J. T. (2009) The evaluative space grid: A single-item measure of positivity and negativity. Cognition and Emotion 23:453–80.
Norris, C. J., Larsen, J. T., Crawford, L. E. & Cacioppo, J. T. (2011) Better (or worse) for some than others: Individual differences in the positivity offset and negativity bias. Journal of Research in Personality 45:100–11.
Smith, N. K., Larsen, J. T., Chartrand, T. L., Cacioppo, J. T., Katafiasz, H. A. & Moran, K. E. (2006) Being bad isn't always good: Evaluative context moderates the attention bias toward negative information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 90:210–20.
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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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