I work in UX (user experience) which involves a lot of psychological principles to various degrees and came across an interesting thought about bad experiences.

My question is, is there some kind of common term or phrase for a person that remembers past negative situations more clearly than positive ones?

I was thinking of the example of news reports about plane crashes. The percentage of negative incidents across the world is minute but since people only hear about the negative, this is how they perceive the majority. Therefore their memory of the bad news stories will outweigh their memory of their last successful flight. This can cause people to see air travel as dangerous.

There are probably better examples of this but I hope that makes sense.

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    $\begingroup$ There are 3 different questions here that probably belong in separate posts. The term for remembering the negative over the positive is negativity bias. Since memory is typically congruent with mood, a person who remembers past negative situations more clearly than positive ones is probably depressed at that moment. The example of news reports about plane crashes refers to the availability heuristic. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Feb 21, 2019 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


There isn't a name (that I am aware of at least) for a person who has this experience, but the concept is referred to as negativity bias.

Negativity bias is a general phenomenon, though certainly individuals can vary as to how strongly they are influenced by negative rather than positive events/information.


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