Researchers at the National Institute of Health recently asked 200 volunteers to look at positive and negative images for as long on each image as they would like. Most people, interestingly, chose to look a little longer at the negative images.
The NIH report suggests some of that may come from humanity's innate "negativity" bias, in which we tend to feel negative emotions more deeply and pay more attention to bad news. When someone becomes a star we may enjoy the story, but when their rise turns into a downward plunge -- especially with the added benefit of scandal or illegal behavior -- you can barely see the subject for the forest of surrounding entertainment "journalists." This bias could have evolutionary roots in a need to evaluate potential negative events or surroundings more quickly than others in order to RUN YOU IDIOT IT'S A SABRE-TOOTH TIGER!
In the end, the researchers found that the small section of folks who preferred to look at the positive images longer also scored high on measurements designed to help show "agreeability." Those tests had only one question: "Will you answer some questions designed to help us measure your agreeability?"
Thus, as the headline at Big Think suggests, friendlier (or more agreeable) people tend to be happier.
The study was co-published in the Big Honkin' Journal of Stuff Everybody Knows But Which Some Eggheads Still Have to Have Explained to Them. Along with this gem on how men find women in high heels attractive.