psychology | August 28, 2019

How Does Journalism Shape Our Pessimistic Outlook? Steven Pinker for ABC Radio

Why do we tend to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, but not the future? Psychology Professor and bestselling author Steven Pinker appeared on ABC Radio to discuss how the negative nature of today’s news media fuels our pessimistic attitudes. 

“Journalism is driven by events. Events are usually things that go wrong. It’s very easy for something bad to happen very quickly...a terrorist attack, an explosion, an epidemic, a famine,” explains Steven Pinker, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. “But things going right tend to build up over time, and they often tend to be things that don’t happen. [...] And since the news doesn’t cover what does not happen, nor does it tend to cover gradual changes, people are actually ignorant of these positive indicators.”


News, says Pinker, should operate more like the sports page that reports both wins and losses. “In the realm of news, people would have a more accurate picture of the world if it had something more like a dashboard of indicators of the state of the world.”


You can listen to the full conversation here.


To book Steven Pinker for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today.