Whenever in tough times, we get the classic advice ‘stay positive‘ but is it that easy for everyone? No, says the team of psychologists from Michigan State University. The research says the ability to stay positive or negative, in a rough situation is hardwired in brain and it’s the first ever study of its kind proving the idea that there really are positive and negative people in the world.
The researchers showed 71 female participants the graphic images and were asked to put a positive spin on them while their brain activity was recorded. The graphics included situations that would activate ‘worry’ response in brain and the subjects were told the potential outcomes of those situations, for example – a masked man holding a knife to a woman’s throat and the outcome that woman might break free and escape.
Before the experiment the subjects were surveyed to establish who tended to think positive and who thought negative. Result proved if those participants were right and the brains of positive thinkers were much less active during the experiment than those of the negative thinkers or worriers.
According to the researchers, when worriers were asked to decrease their negative emotions, they showed a paradoxical backfiring effect in their brain, proving it’s hard for them to put a positive spin on difficult situations and their negativity will only increase when they are asked to change their negative perspective to positive, making their situation worse.
The study included only female subjects because women are more sensitive to anxiety and the previously reported sex differences could have obscured the results. So next time you advise a negative thinker to think positive, know already that it won’t work ’cause they are just born that way.
[Source: Michigan State University]