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Home » Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and How to Get Unstuck) by Alison Ledgerwood (Transcript)

Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and How to Get Unstuck) by Alison Ledgerwood (Transcript)

Alison Ledgerwood at TEDxUCDavis

Full text of Alison Ledgerwood on Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and How to Get Unstuck) at TEDxUCDavis conference.

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Hi everyone. Gosh, I wish I could dance. But I can’t and you really don’t want me to. So instead, I thought I would talk a little today about how people think. I’m fascinated by this question. I’m a social psychologist which basically means I’m a professional people watcher. So this is what I do. I try to figure out how humans think and how we might be able to think better.

And here’s something I noticed a few years ago about how I seemed to think. Here is a typical week in my life which usually seems to revolve entirely around publishing papers. So here I am in the maximum of my artistic abilities as a stick figure. Going along at baseline and a paper I got accepted. I get this rush, this blip of happiness. And then I’m back to baseline by about lunchtime.

A few days later, a paper might get rejected and that feels pretty awful. And I wait for that blip to end. But somehow I just can’t stop thinking about it.

And here’s the craziest part. Even if another paper gets accepted the next day, well that’s nice but somehow I can’t get that pesky rejection out of my head.

So what is going on here? Why does the failure seem to stick in our mind so much longer than a success? Well together with my colleague and her voice in the political science department, I started thinking about this question, and this question of do our minds get stuck in the negative? We all know intuitively that there are different ways of thinking about things. The same glass, the saying goes can be seen as half full or half empty. And there’s a lot of research in the social sciences showing that depending on how you describe the glass to people as half full or half empty, it changes how they feel about it.

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