Threat is more powerful than reward because our brains are designed to keep us safe. Studies show the avoid (threat) response generates more arousal, more quickly and lasts longer than the approach (reward) response. The limbic system within the brain controls our emotions. It can process information within a fifth of a second before it reaches conscious awareness. It remembers whether something should be avoided or approached. We may consider this intuition. It is reflex designed for survival.

Physical and social pains produce similar responses. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows the same areas of the brain are stimulated whether the pain is physical or social. The brain equates social needs with survival. During that fight or flight response the limbic system is using oxygen and glucose inhibiting the thinking part of the brain. Our limbic system hijacks us when we most need our mental capacities. We have the tendency to generalize, make incorrect connections and shrink our aptitude for insight.

Nora T. Akins, of Strategic Management provides management training and refines human resource systems to make the world kinder, one workplace at a time. Reach Nora at 219 873-1735 or nora@manage

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