Psychological alteration due to bias of severe fear

31.05.2020

One of the most common psychological distortions that people experience is, without a doubt, the bias of normality. It refers to that act by which we think that the things we take for granted today are not going to change, that in life there is no risk, danger or fatality. And, if it exists, it is something that, on average, always affects others and almost never affects oneself.

That way of underestimating adversity or disasters also acts as a defense mechanism. Let's face it, if we always had in our minds the idea that something bad is going to happen, surely we would not leave home and spend all our savings to build a bunker. However, it is appropriate and even necessary to leave some room for that probability.

It is not about obsessing. Nor is it necessary to completely limit our lifestyle in order to avoid all kinds of risks. To live, after all, is to take risks and assume that, in our daily lives, there are dangers. This has always been the case, since the beginning of time and at every moment of our human evolution we have accepted adversities and we have faced them. Completely underestimating threats is therefore little more than folly.

We are aware that great disasters are rare throughout history, but not due to the low probability of their occurrence, it is necessary to deny their appearance. Because, as we well know, they occur, arise from one day to the next and change our lives. It must be kept in mind.

What is normal bias?

The normality bias manifests itself, on average, in two ways. The first is simple: one assumes that adversity will never knock on your door. This behavior is not exclusive to children or adolescents; Furthermore, not because you are young, one assumes that difficulties are alien or typical of the adult population.

In reality, this bias is typical at any age and it is common for many of us to apply it when prioritizing other things, by letting ourselves be carried away by daily life, by our obligations, by that daily pressure in which one simply focuses on one's own world. At no time do we consider that something negative can happen because our mind is aware of other things.

Likewise, this bias can also appear in another way: by completely minimizing threats even when they are already present. In this case, we already appreciate an irrational framing or an inability to act in a tight way. This behavior occurs, for example, when the risk is already real, when the catastrophe or danger is evident, but the person avoids or underestimates that threat completely.

It does not matter that the context that surrounds the person already shows signs of that threat, of that determined risk. Your mind continues to take it for granted that everything will be all right, and if you don't, the probability of that adversity affecting you is very low, negligible.

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Negative panic or normality bias, something very common

The negativity bias also receives other names: "negative panic" or "ostrich effect". Something we must understand is that according to various studies such as those carried out at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, about 70% of people experience this bias.

When you take your car, the probability of having an accident does not always cross your mind. When we enter a building, it is very rare to imagine that it could collapse. All of them are completely normal processes in which the bias of normality allows us, in a certain way, to minimize fear in order to function normally on a day-to-day basis.

The problem, obviously, occurs when in the midst of a natural disaster, conflict or pandemic, the person conceives himself as someone invulnerable and without any responsibility in that context. The "nothing is going to happen to me" or "this is all an exaggeration and there is no danger" forms a dangerous and problematic mental approach.

The destruction of Pompeii, the volcano that nobody gave importance to

The eruption of Vesuvius and the disaster that occurred in AD 79 in the Campania area was the chronicle of an announced catastrophe. Seventeen years earlier an earthquake already destroyed part of Naples and Pompeii. Pliny the young man already wrote in his chronicles that tremors were common in those lands. It did not matter that each day they were more frequent.

A notable example of normality bias was experienced in Pompeii. When Vesuvius exploded, the Pompeians spent hours watching the show. They took it for granted that it was not going to reach their beautiful city, that the volcano, at most, would affect the surrounding cities, Herculaneum, Stabia ... And, as we well know, that disaster buried thousands of people and all populations In their vicinity they were hidden under a dense blanket of melted stone.

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