We Are 80% Optimistic

Gallagher, James, (2011). “Brain ‘rejects negative thoughts’.”  BBC.co.uk. Visited on October 8, 2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15214080

This article, “Brain ‘rejects negative thoughts'”, speaks of a generalized view of the brain based on evidence gathered from a wide population. Optimists, or those whose frontal lobes process good news and comparatively ignore bad news, make up about 80% of the population; while the remaining 20%, the pessimists, have a similar predisposition to bad news. Since optimists do not absorb bad news, risks are often underestimated; as a population, it can be generalized to say that the people respond more to good news than to bad.

Conceptual Design: If risks are to be acknowledged and people’s views changed to reflect them, information regarding them should be emphasized. Information with positive effect will be more attractive, and need not be emphasized for message to be processed. Knowledge of this could be particularly useful in government. Knowing this, in sales, information may be designed which downplays risks, and emphasizes positive attributes, for maximum acceptance of the product in a general population. Furthermore, a population whose predilection is to pessimism could be acknowledged with information products designed specifically for them.

Interaction Design: Elements of the product may be weighed as positive or negative, and distributed at varying levels to achieve a desired response. With knowledge of the audience and articulation of the product to reach that audience, a response to the product can be predicted or designed prior to its release.

Interface Design: For public messaging, negative information may need to be emphasised when related to safety, though perhaps ideally in simplified form so it does not require much working memory.