The Positive-Negative Scale

If I were to greet you and hand you ten dollars, how would you feel? You’d probably think I was crazy and start planning how to spend the cash.

Now, flip the situation. What if I came up and took ten dollars from you? This would undoubtedly piss the normal person off and most likely bother you for the rest of the day. The outcome of these two examples are +10 and -10 dollars, but our reactions don’t equal one another.


The Positive-Negative Scale is an aspect of life that I have been observing and taking notes on for a good while. It is clear, as humans, that we have created a skewed scale for events in our life. This can vary depending on the individual, but is evident a majority of the time. The thought of losing ten dollars is much greater than gaining ten dollars and most of us have heard of this concept before. My theory dives a bit deeper in the scale that I have created below.

Positive Reactions range from 1–5

  • 1 could be described as the happiness we get when our meal is prepared correctly.
  • 5 could be described as getting that dream job.

Negative Reactions range from 1–10

  • 2 could be described as the anger we feel after realizing our meal was prepared incorrectly.
  • 10 could be described as losing the dream job that we once held.

The negative reactions are weighted as double our positive reactions because that’s how we are wired. We may feel happiness from events, but not as much as we do when something crummy happens. I don’t include extremely tragic examples in the scale because people’s ability to deal with these situations are extremely different. The examples used are things that happen on a frequent basis and I see it everywhere.

The positive-negative scale, I believe, is a problem. Our lives could end at any second, yet we oftentimes let negativity boss us around. Be mindful of this scale and start taking control of your reactions!


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