Dr Jennifer Corns (University of Glasgow) on "Hedonic Independence and the Negativity Bias".
Abstract: It is controversial within the relevant sciences whether negative and positive affect, or hedonic tone, are independent. Many advocates of hedonic independence appeal to the negativity bias for support. The negativity bias is a broad psychological principle according to which the negative is more causally efficacious than the positive. Bad, as it is often colloquially put, is stronger than good. At least for humans. The principle is almost universally accepted in both psychology and neuroscience and currently serves as a constraint on much affective theorizing. Beyond its current deployment for empirical inquiry, the principle has significant implications for everyday life and philosophical inquiry. In this talk, I argue that the negativity bias is poorly formulated and poorly supported. I conclude by offering some alternative hypotheses that survive the offered arguments and may prove fruitful, but which do not support hedonic independence.