This bias probably evolved as a survival technique. Assuming the worst of a situation that turns out not to be dangerous is much safer than not expecting danger that turns out to be present.
This psychological phenomenon explains why bad first impressions can be so difficult to overcome and why past traumas can have such long lingering effects. In almost any interaction, we are more likely to notice negative things and later remember them more vividly.
Brands can utilise negativity bias to their own advantage, particularly with sustainability initiatives, and this bias can also be used to the detriment of competing brands, or less environmentally friendly products, both in-store and online.
Shoppers will pay more attention to and react more strongly to negative sustainability related stimuli. “78% of adults think major brands aren’t doing enough to reduce their environmental impact!”
Shoppers tend to remember negative events more than positive ones. So as a brand you can tap into these memories, but do so with caution
Bad news sells
It’s a fact that shoppers cannot help but pay more attention to negative headlines, in-store, on POS, on pack and online.
The negativity bias can have a powerful impact on shopping behaviour, and being aware of it means that you can take steps to create more engaging and memorable sustainability communications and brand touchpoints.