How to overcome normalcy bias

Why do people stay put when a hurricane is bearing down on their home, or a nearby volcano threatens to bury them in lava? In fact, why don’t more people prepare more for emergencies? This is called normalcy bias. 

People are very efficient. Our brains operate this way or we’d be overwhelmed with all the information we take in. When faced with extreme news, like an oncoming hurricane, people tend to underestimate the danger and delay decisions to keep things normal. People put off decisions like buying food and water, preparing their home, and in extreme cases, people rationalize that they’ll ride out the storm or fire.

When something gives us stress, like imminent danger, we try not to overreact, we maintain normalcy by rationalizing that the change is now normal. The decision to prepare, or remove ourselves from danger, is more extreme, and that makes us uncomfortable.

If you find yourself struggling to react, then do something little to help your brain process the situation. Instead of evacuating, maybe start preparing water, do a little packing, run to the store and buy some supplies. These little activities help you process bigger ideas. You’ll then be more comfortable making harder decisions.