Negativity bias

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda and written by Paul Rozin and Edward Royzman

We all have favorite restaurants. Let's assume going to one of your favorite restaurants and tasting that delicious appetizer or may be a Cocktail. Then you see this new dish on the menu and order it. Unfortunately, it happens to be the worst dish that you have ever tried in the restaurant. What happens to the great impression you have always had about this place? Do you still have it or will you ponder upon the fact that you tried the worst dish ever there? Most of us will think about the bad experience that we just had and won't be able to recall the wonderful appetizer and the cocktail or all the other previous delicious dishes right after the bad experience. This tendency of human psychology is known as the Negativity Bias.

According to the Negativity bias, we tend to pay greater attention to bad things over good things by making bad experiences more important to kill all the fantastic ones. Even though we don't give much thought to this, the Negativity Bias can create a powerful effect to influence our decisions and behavior. Therefore, Negativity Bias plays an important role to influence consumer decisions in online platforms and in digital marketing. Every business online should have a clear understanding on the damage that can be created by this tendency of human psychology in order to prevent it or to weaken the adverse effect which was already done by it.

Why does the Negativity Bias occur?

  • We tend to pay more attention to negative consequences than positive consequences because negative events are rarer than the positive ones.
  • We tend to remember bad experiences way better than the good ones.
  • We tend to learn more from negative experiences than positive ones.
  • Negative experiences are recalled better than positive ones

How does the Negativity Bias affect online businesses?

Negativity bias can strike your online business through negative reviews and comments. Before we buy anything online, the first thing that we all check is the reviews posted by the people who have actually purchased that product or service before. Having a few negative comments amidst many positive comments will still draw the focus to the negative ones because we fear we also may face those consequences. As a result, the Negativity bias can adversely affect online business in the following ways.

They will undermine the reputation of the business.

It doesn't matter for how long you have been building up your reputation. 50% of the customers will still question the credibility of the business after a few negative reviews.

It is the most painful hit for conversion rate Optimization (CRO)

Definitely negative reviews and comments will drive your customers away. According to the research, one negative review can send 22% off prospects away. Do the math. Over 4 negative reviews can drive away up to 70% of customers. Greater the negative reviews, lower the conversion rate Optimization (CRO) will be.

Negative reviews lower the search engine ranking.

This happens because only the best enterprises will be recommended by the search engines to the users.

It is the ultimate hit for profitability.

Reduced customers result in reduced revenues followed by reduced profit.

What can we do to weaken the impact of the Negativity bias to boost CRO?

Act immediately

Responding to negative reviews immediately is absolutely vital than ignoring them. Once the negative reviews are responded, they should be addressed immediately too, letting your customers know that you’re responsible for what went wrong and credible. According to a research done by Forbes, 45% of the customers tend to visit the online stores who respond to negative comments and reviews effectively. This can eventually boost Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Uplift yourself out of the negative mindset by highlighting your values

The key is to direct the attention of your customers to somewhere positive. Treat them with new and refreshing experiences; maybe you can give some discounts, offers or free trials. They should be strong enough to bring your target consumers the joy.

Invest in tools of ‘online reputation intelligence’

These tools can help you a great deal towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) by ensuring you have a positive reputation online. Such applications come with tools to assist on how to deal with negative reviews effectively.

Wrap Up

According to human psychology, we have this tendency to ponder upon negative experiences over positive ones which is known as the ‘Negativity bias.’ This bias plays a major role to shape up the consumer decisions; therefore it’s not something that businesses should overlook. Negativity bias acts adversely towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) especially in the online platforms, through negative reviews. The path that businesses should take to overcome this problem is to recognize what went wrong and act immediately to correct the course of action to build credibility in order to boost Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

A new cognitive bias every week!

Join our weekly mailing list to continue learning about CRO and psychology.

References

The references contain experiments and studies that prove this bias is there.

1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263513787_The_negativity_bias_Conceptualization_quantification_and_individual_differences
2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228778181_Negativity_Bias_Negativity_Dominance_and_Contagion

Books

Would you like to go more in-depth? Here are our recommendations:

The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It by John Tierney & Roy F. Baumeister Buy this book

Sources

Don't believe us? This is where we've found our data.

Only available with an account Register for free, no credit card required
  • Brain iconDirect access to 100+ cognitive biases
  • Brain iconLearn how to apply biases
  • Brain iconAccess to a great community
Create Your Account

Tags

Easily navigate through our website using tags.

Only available with an account Register for free, no credit card required
  • Brain iconDirect access to 100+ cognitive biases
  • Brain iconLearn how to apply biases
  • Brain iconAccess to a great community
Create Your Account

Do you think you know enough about CRO?

Join our monthly mailing to continue learning more and more about CRO and psychology.