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pussinboots's avatar

Why are negative subject matter questions the most popular ?

Asked by pussinboots (213 points ) March 13th, 2012

I’ve been having a look round and also posted a couple of questions with a negative content and it is apparent that negativity makes for a better response when asking a question…..subjects on death,violence,abuse,mental issues, go down a bomb !(sorry couldn’t resist).
Happy easy going subjects apart from your favourite current song or best recipie for carrot cake never get a look in…...why does negativity dominate life so much and why is it so popular? If happiness is the ultimate goal the why do we celebrate doom and gloom.

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71 Answers

pussinboots's avatar

I am guilty .

gailcalled's avatar

You’re oversimplifying and certainly not speaking for me.

john65pennington's avatar

Negative words are like sex, they both sale.

A negative newscast will always have your attention, where if Billy boy won the Scouts Golden Eagle badge goes in one ear out the other.

Its just human nature.

thorninmud's avatar

It’s a recognized psychological phenomenon called negativity bias. On average, people find the negative more compelling.

pussinboots's avatar

@gailcalled i have never spoken for anyone in my life,this is called perception. This is how Is see things .

pussinboots's avatar

@thorninmud i just read that link and for me Bad is Stronger than good. Thanks it was most enlightening.

wundayatta's avatar

I wouldn’t call the things you speak of “negativity.” I would call them serious and interesting matters. Current songs—well, that’s interesting if you like that kind of thing. And I don’t need to discuss carrot cake recipes. I can google it and get a thousand recipes instantly.

But I need ideas about coping with death or depression or things of that nature, and I don’t think that’s negative at all. In fact, I think it’s quite positive. By discussing problems, we can solve them. But avoiding the things that really matter, we hurt ourselves. Avoidance behavior, in my mind, is quite negative. Songs and recipes, if being used to avoid the important stuff, are negative.

My friend, I think you are seeing things backwards. Come to the dark side and look up, and see all the delicious problems we have to solve. When we solve them, we will make the world a better place. That’s a positive outlook on things. Try it some time, when you’re really bored of sweetness and light.

flo's avatar

@pussinboots it could be that people are trying to be helpful when answering a question. Like the one with a father of a teenager here a few months ago got tons of answers.

pussinboots's avatar

So the negativity bias is a flawed theory? @thorninmud has just offered a documented explanation to what I’ve asked and it is evident that it exists.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The very nature of some questions are going to guarantee that people are going to have different opinions and that included negative opinions. That’s the crux of interesting questions. However, it’s human nature to focus on the detractors, rather than on the people who agree with you.

wundayatta's avatar

I read the article, and it has definitional problems. They refer to the negative the same way you do. That’s a bias all on its own. We don’t have to think of these things negatively, and you can see that I don’t think of them negatively.

pussinboots's avatar

@wundayatta Ok things that seem negative ,like for instance a murder of a child? Would you see that in a different light ? Can you see the good in an occurence of that ilk ? That is for me a negative subject matter and it would attract a greater response from any community/group. Carrot cake could well be deemed as negative to some but would you jump on a question on carrot cake and atempt to push your theory on the best setting to cook it? It just would not get the milage.

flo's avatar

@pussinboots maybe you could provide examples. I mean what’s the question about ”...for instance a murder of a child?” And there is nothing much to be intrigued about carrot cakes, I don’t know.

pussinboots's avatar

@flo provide an example ?

flo's avatar

@pussinboots you mentioned a murdered child, as an example, but what would be the question you’re thinking about? You are talking about Q&As right? I gave you an example of a father of a teenage boy who was considering suicide, and lots of people answered with helpful ideas, eventhough it was a negative story. I am not sure I understand the question.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

My thoughts based on my feelings about certain questions:

Death: Death is very real. Even if we don’t know anyone who has died, there are people who knew people who have died. We may even be concerned with our own deaths and how our own deaths will go down.

Violence: We have our opinions on violence. Violence can create a whole lot of discussion because of this.

Abuse: We have our opinions on what abuse is. The subject of abuse can create a whole lot of discussion simply because of this.

Mental issues: We all have a brain. We all have feelings. We all have thoughts. It makes sense that this would result in plenty of discussion because, after all, we all can relate to it!

Favourite current song: This question might not generate as much discussion because there is too much variety in it. Songs can feel personal. Not everybody wants to talk about their favourite songs. People might not have heard of certain songs, and even if they have, they may already feel a connection with others who have without feeling a need to talk about it. I know that for me, songs tend to speak to my feelings, not necessarily to my desire to communicate with others about each song and have a long discussion about them all.

Best recipe for carrot cake: I really do not care about the best recipe for carrot cake unless I want to make carrot cake myself or if I have a recipe I love that I want to share. As it stands, I barely ever eat carrot cake and I am not even sure what the best carrot cake is.

pussinboots's avatar

@flo I am saying that for the most part a question with a seemingly negative content attracts a greater response . http://www.fluther.com/141360/how-do-you-think-the-sergeant-that-killed-the-afghani-civilians/ seemingly negative content ?

flo's avatar

@pussinboots If someone asks “if I do x y z would it be racist or insulting? etc. it would get the racists out of the woodworks, answering no no it is not racist, ... The non racists would go on to the next question I think, thinking it too a dumb question of course it is racist.

Re. your last post, yeah I can see that question being waaaay more interesting to answer that the carrot cake question or favorite song, for sure. I don’t see them as comparable.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@pussinboots It’s hard to discuss these lighter things. There’s not really a whole lot to discuss about carrot cake other than yay or nay (I myself am a nay on the carrot cake front). Were we talking in real life, face to face, we could debate the best place to go get a carrot cake, and then get it together from that little Ma and Pa shop, and then eat it together and make yummy noises and remark on how this specific frosting is really out of this world, or could have used some more cinnamon (or whatever you put on carrot cake frosting? Like I said, I’m not a fan…). But the internet isn’t really a great place to discuss carrot cake.

pussinboots's avatar

@flo A broader spectrum of people would react more to a negative theme such as what I stated in the question than would react to carrot cake recipe .That is where i’m at with this .
I see that negative content gets more milage in terms of responses. Please read the question again.
If Billy gets a star in class then thats just great but would not get the same amount of attention than if Billy blew the tutors kneecaps off ? One is deemed posotive and one is deemed negative.

rooeytoo's avatar

I’m not sure if I agree that negativity gets the most response. I think it is the subjects that polarise. Ask the one about spanking or atheism vs. theism, mac vs. pc and they are the ones that seem to go on forever and no compromise is ever reached.

I agree though when it comes to news reporting, the negative always garners a lot more attention than positive happenings.

pussinboots's avatar

@rooeytoo please read the question and you will see the examples of negativity that i stated .

pussinboots's avatar

Stop being soooo bloody negative !

rooeytoo's avatar

@pussinboots – yep I saw the subjects you referenced but as I said I don’t think they get as much response as the spanking, etc. questions. Now I have not gone back through all of the questions on fluther and compiled statistics, this is just my own personal observation!

pussinboots's avatar

@rooeytoo negative Captain . Beam me up Scotty

Dutchess_III's avatar

@pussinboots: In the details you said “I’ve been having a look round and also posted a couple of questions with a negative content and it is apparent that negativity makes for a better response when asking a question”
Could you post links to the the questions you asked so we can get a better idea of your “examples”?

janbb's avatar

I think it is not so much negativity but that questions that are about meaty topics get a better response here than fluff.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Let’s see if we can start a fight, shall we over my recent question about shower soap, shall we? You first, @janbb!

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Aethelflaed ..I just read your post that you are against carrot cake….them’s fightin’ words!!

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Dutchess_III Oddly enough, I had that prickly feeling of knowing I was saying fightin’ words when I typed it…

Clair's avatar

The fluff that @janbb mentioned is outrageous now compared to when I hung with the jellies. I couldn’t get away because I loved all the meaty topics. Now I hardly visit because I don’t care for carrot cake or anything like it. If I want a recipe, I go to Allrecipes. I really don’t care to know your favorite song. I don’t know how to fix your Mac and your research paper is your problem.
I disagree that we are always drawn to negativity and I also disagree that death and mental ‘issues’ are negative. Happiness is not everyone’s ultimate goal. And doom and gloom is not always celebrated. These generalities have as much flavor as your carrot cake. yuck

marinelife's avatar

The highest level of responses on this site were to questions regarding marriage proposals. Not negative.

gailcalled's avatar

And the quirky questions, such as the cake question and the body under the frizzer or was it in the swimming pool, got huge numbers of answers.

I got many invaluable and helpful/informative answers to questions that I would describe as emotionally neutral.

My early struggles with Milo; my early struggles with the computer; my struggles with ear buds: and other people’s struggles with iambic pentameter and homonyms are some topics that come to mind.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@gailcalled don’t know that I was there then,(OK, I chiimed in on the last part of the shell in the frizzer under the running pool but ((( ))). You’re my Other Mother.

The OP seems to have dropped out. Probably due to negativity. I SO seriously want some carrot cake now! With Cream Cheese frosting! LOTS of Cream Cheese frosting!

wundayatta's avatar

I dunno. I’ve had to fight my way through some seriously dry carrot cakes with tasteless frosting. I mean, it would have been enough to drive a person to slit their own throat. And start spanking kids… or whoever made the cake, anyway… or maybe the person who served it. Or maybe the restaurant.

We should have a movement. No. Not a bowel movement. A protest movement against restaurants that serve dry carrot cake. We could have chapters in every city. We could do informational campaigns. Where to get the best carrots. How to make your own cream cheese—that sort of thing.

Yep. This is an idea whose time has come. Definitely!

Under the orange tree!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ok ok ok ok. Dry carrot cake would be terrible bad. But FRESH carrot cake with cream cheese frosting? O….My!!!!

We should have a movement against restaurants who dare to serve dry carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and warm cheese cake. Warm cheese cake is like Christmas in July, you know? Bleh!!

I’m off to the orange tree too..if only I could find it.

Why am I thinking of moist orange cake with cream cheese frosting right now?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Dutchess_III Orange like orange, or orange like a nice flourless chocolate cake with layers of valencia orange mousse?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ummm…Orange. As in made with oranges. With cream cheese frosting. How does one have a “flourless” chocolate cake? Spell check doesn’t even recognize the word “flourless”!

Ok. The race is on. We need an orange cake recipe, made with real oranges AND (I’m assuming) flour. N stuff.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Dutchess_III Flourless chocolate cake. Swear to god, freaking mouthgasm.

Bellatrix's avatar

Or maybe a dark chocolate mud cake with some sort of valencia orange frosting or something….

Moist carrot cake is nice by the way.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] I know this is a meta question, but let’s get back to the topic at hand. Thanks!

Response moderated
wundayatta's avatar

The topic at hand (one of several) is whether carrot cake is a positive or negative topic. We are exactly where we need to be. This is a quite intentional demonstration of the problem with the premise of the question. And, of course, your moderation proves the point: you think this is boring and off topic—which is everyone else’s point, as well. Be patient. The conversation is right on track.

augustlan's avatar

Just for the record, the OP repeatedly asked me to mod off many, many answers in this thread, and I wouldn’t do it, because it would not have been appropriate. I did post the [mod says] to try to get it back on track for the OP. This did not make the OP happy, though. The response I modded after the [mod says] was pretty offensive and was posted out of spite. The OP has since left the building.

wundayatta's avatar

We all seem to go through a phase where we have to learn we cannot control our questions. I guess some of us can’t come to grips with that. But I know how tough it is, having nearly left a couple of times over similar issues.

chyna's avatar

Apparently the OP has left the building, but my answer to his/her example of the soldier
in Afghanistan having so many replies is because it is a timely, going on right now, subject. We tend to chime in more so on subjects that are going on right in front of us. There have been many questions on the election, on Rush, the death of stars. It is usually these types of questions that we all want and need to have someone to talk to about, and validate our feelings.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@augustlan Why’d you have to mention that it was offensive and posted out of spite? Now I’m dying to know what it said…

janbb's avatar

Yeah, me too. you snooze, you lose around here.

Sunny2's avatar

Fluff questions result in chatty friendly responses. Loaded (for whatever heavy topic) questions usually tail off in some form of vitriol. Some people like to chat; others, to debate (albeit with no rules). We choose our own questions to ask and answer.

Blackberry's avatar

It’s more fun to discuss because it goes really deep.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, if the OP had stuck around we wouldn’t have gotten lost in carrot cake. We were just twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the OP to answer our questions (like mine, To Wit: why the OP can’t post a link to other questions he or she supposedly posted here,) but (s)he never showed up so….it’s off to the frizzer.
I’m sure if (s)he came back now, it would get right back on track. Perhaps the individual was perturbed that several people didn’t agree with his or her perceptions. Maybe that’s why the OP left.

Bellatrix's avatar

It said carrot cake is [redacted].

flo's avatar

@pussinboots I don’t think we disagree. My point is that I can see how the negative news you provided as an example would get more attrention/answers than carrot cake recipe or favorite song.

In a way, knowing about what is going on is the first step to finding solutions. I don’t know what would happen if people just ignored the bad/news stories.

Symbeline's avatar

I suppose subjects like death and abuse are good fodder for long conversations and heated debates. That’s good, too, because it’s good for people to explore subjects, and their minds. And those of others. However I don’t find that your examples dominate most of Fluther’s time. In fact it’s intense when there is a question like that, but light hearted questions and simpler opinion driven stuff seems the main entry, usually. Or maybe I just hang out in all the wrong places.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Let them eat soap.

aleksite's avatar

Its better to stay negative than positive.

wundayatta's avatar

@aleksite That’s just plain silly. Is there any particular reason you say that? If there is, I’d love to hear it. But making an assertion like that without backing it up with any reasoning at all is just plain silly.

Welcome to fluther!

Bellatrix's avatar

Welcome to Fluther @alkesite, I too would love to hear why you think it is better to stay negative than be positive?

Dutchess_III's avatar

waiting and waiting and waiting…

Bellatrix's avatar

Light some pretty candles while we wait @Dutchess_III and have you got anything yummy to eat?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ok, I will! And I have carrot cake if you want some!

Bellatrix's avatar

Oh I do… with frosting?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh yes. Cream cheese frosting!

Bellatrix's avatar

I could just go a piece of carrot cake with some frosting. Bring it on… with a healthy dose of positivity though. Still waiting…. Have a good weekend Dutchess_III nearly time for me to go and work.

Kardamom's avatar

I think I disagree with the OP’s premise, at least for the Q’s I choose to answer. I can wax poetic all day long about carrot cake (and I probably have) but I also try to check into as many of the relationship Q’s as I can, because we are trying to help people to get out of their painful negative situations. There aren’t a lot of Q’s where people ask something like, “Hey, I just got a new boyfriend and he’s really nice to me and he’s polite to my parents and enjoys shopping, what should I do?” Most Q’s are on here to get advice on how to solve a problem.

Problems, by their nature and definition, are negatives. Some are more negative than others and each of us decides for ourselves what we think is negative and to what degree it is negative. Some people might think something is truly horrible and devastating (I recall a Q about a mother practically going off the rails when her daughter confessed that she was no longer a Catholic and was considering another Christian denomination) and most of us tried to remind her that this was barely a problem at all, because her daughter was a good person and was making her own way in life based upon what she decided was meaningful and important and made sense for her own life. So negativity is all about perception.

I also enjoy some of the fluffier Q’s like the ones about music and movies, because I love music and movies. And I don’t consider the food related Q’s to be simply fluff, I’ve been on a bunch of Q’s that were about nutrition, how to eat to avoid certain diseases, helping folks that are new to vegetarianism have a smooth transition, helping a man who’s wife was just diagnosed with diabetes on how to deal with that situation and trying to teach him how to cook for her, and helping folks who are new to cooking how to feel comfortable in the kitchen. We’ve also helped people find long lost recipes that their grandma’s used to make when they were distraught because they lost the recipe or the grandma had passed away before writing down the recipe. Cooking and food and everything that surrounds that subject is very important to me, so I don’t consider that to be fluffy or meaningless.

And as per @Dutchess_III request, here is a recipe for an Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

And one for Carrot Cake with cranberries and orange cream cheese frosting.

And one for Flour-less Chocolate Cake

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh man, @Kardamom! Man oh man! Can such a small amount of orange zest really make that much difference?

Back to the Q…I think the OP just posted this question with his/her mind already made up as to the what the “answer” was….and the responses didn’t fit that pre-conceived idea. So (s)he left. I don’t think the negative issues necessarily get the most response. It just so totally depends on each and every individual question.

Blackberry's avatar

You guys are still waiting? Meh, don’t worry….

flo's avatar

I wonder if anyone knows this story of positive subject matter, or if anyone knows how to find Rosie’s old show?
Edit to add: this

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