Internet Psychology :: People focus on the negatives

Callers to a phone in on London’s LBC Radio Station yesterday were full of tales of problems and difficulties they have with the Internet, in particular Ebay. One person had serious difficulties after someone launched a campaign against her by pretending to buy everything she put up for sale and then giving entirely negative feedback about the fictitious purchases. Another caller found that what she bought wasn’t what was actually advertised. And another person was worried about paying for things online. It was fascinating to see how everyone focused on the problems and difficulties, rather than the positives. For every person who has problems with the Internet, there are millions who don’t. But it seems to be a psychological tendency for us to focus on the negatives – few people are able to put the negatives to one side and deal with only the positives of any situation. There is a reason for this – from an evolutionary perspective if our brains were not able to spot the negatives it could lead us into potential harm, without realising it. So we seem to have an inbuilt system that allows us to avoid harm by focusing on negatives. But we have to remember that the positives about the Internet far outweigh the negatives. So what advice did the LBC listeners get? Well, they were told that they should base their reaction to a web site on “gut reaction”. If you think an eBay purchaser is suspect or if you are not sure about a particular web page, you are probably right. So the listeners were told you don’t need any fancy technology or tricks – just trust your instincts. And which “expert” gave that advice? Well, I have to admit it was me. I was one of the guests on the lunchtime show on LBC yesterday.

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