Are You A Positive Or Negative Thinker? - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Are You A Positive Or Negative Thinker?

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(WLNS) - The ability to stay positive when times get tough and, conversely, of being negative may be hardwired in the brain, finds new research led by a Michigan State University psychologist.

The study is the first to provide biological evidence that there really are positive and negative people in the world.

"It's the first time we've been able to find a brain marker that really distinguishes negative thinkers from positive thinkers," said Jason Moser, lead investigator and assistant professor of psychology at MSU.

71 women were surveyed prior to the testing to determine who tended to think positively and who thought negatively or worried.

They were then shown images and asked to put a positive spin on them while their brain activity was recorded. Participants were shown images of a masked man holding a knife to a woman's throat, for example, and told one potential outcome was the woman breaking free and escaping.

"The worriers actually showed a paradoxical backfiring effect in their brains when asked to decrease their negative emotions," Moser said. "This suggests they have a really hard time putting a positive spin on difficult situations and actually make their negative emotions worse even when they are asked to think positively."

Moser said the findings have implications in the way negative thinkers approach difficult situations.

"You can't just tell your friend to think positively or to not worry -- that's probably not going to help them," he said. "So you need to take another tack and perhaps ask them to think about the problem in a different way, to use different strategies."

Negative thinkers could also practice thinking positively, although Moser suspects it would take a lot of time and effort to even start to make a difference.


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