Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Bad World: The Negativity Bias in International Politics

| Winter 2018/19


Bad news has a greater influence on judgment and decisionmaking than good news as a result of a subconscious “negativity bias” identified in psychology. In international relations, the bias underlies three key stages of conflict: actors will exaggerate threats, gamble against loss, and remember past failure more readily than any success. An examination of Germany’s actions in World I reveals manifestations of this overarching bias. Decisionmakers need to be aware of the negativity bias and guard against it.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Dominic D.P. Johnson and Dominic Tierney, “Bad World: The Negativity Bias in International Politics,” International Security, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Winter 2018/19), pp. 96–140,

The Authors