Positivity effect

Theory explained by Oreoluwa Akinnawo and written by Mather & Carstensen

This phenomenon, known as the “positivity effect”, may denote three phenomena: a tendency for people to report positive views of reality; a tendency to hold positive expectations, views, and memories; and a tendency to favor positive information in reasoning.

What Is The Positivity Effect All About?

Essentially, older adults tend to be more receptive to positive information than negative information when making judgments. A recognizable example is how older adults view retirement plans and health-related programs/products: For retirement plans, it is advertised as a super beneficial plan for adults who want to live happier lives after decades of being employed, as it will support their standard of living and maybe even help with that long-awaited holiday they have been meaning to take. Health-related products and programs for older adults generally allude to it being able to turn back the hands of time in a benign but effective way.

This all points to a generation of people craving positive experiences in every way possible and if they happen to have bad experiences using a particular web product or website, they will remember it AND avoid it next time.

How Can One Manage The Positivity Effect?

In its most basic explanation, the positivity effect denotes a tendency for people to judge experiences and interactions with positive rather than neutral expectations, as positive. In digital marketing, one can use the positivity effect to create memorable experiences when using their digital product or website.

There is a multitude of “UX crimes “ on websites that create bad experiences for users, reducing their chances of receiving the positivity effect. Examples of UX crimes are Lying Progress Bars, Lying Redirection when Logging in, Visual Hierarchy, Out of Stock / Notify, Random Limo Problem, Dropdowns & Date Pickers, Form Validation Handling, Autoplay Video, Navigation, Burger Menus, Filtering / Winnowing, Mobile Search, Device & Browser Autofill issues.

A lot of these UX crimes have simple fixes and would cost little to no time to correct them. Doing this will have a long-term positive effect on your website and help users have memorable experiences when using your website.

A new cognitive bias every week!

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


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

Do you think you know enough about CRO?

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