When Congratulations Feels Uncomfortable, Part 2

Karen Cerulo, a sociologist at Rutgers University, developed the concept of positive asymmetry to describe a dominant, and normative, but skewed vision of the world. In Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst, Cerulo suggests that “the worst can become a perceptual blind spot, obscured by or blurred by a variety of routine and patterned sociocultural practices—practices that, despite any single individual’s intentions, can veil the worst and make it difficult to define” (p1-2). This bias towards the positive is a social convention, reinforced by families, media, experts, and others. Cerulo theoretically explains this phenomenon as part of human social cognition, where the mind tends to succinctly categorize information according to a “best fit” model. Thus, Cerulo suggests that since the chance of something going horrifically wrong is statistically small, our mental categories lead us to view most outcomes positively, nearly leaving us blind to the possibility of “envisioning the worst.” Read more of this post at From DINK to Dad


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