Normalcy bias refers to our natural reactions when facing a crisis that since something has never happened before… it never will. It is human nature.
Since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. It causes people to underestimate the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on anything to infer a less serious situation.
The normalcy bias causes people to drastically underestimate the effects of the disaster. Therefore, they think that everything will be all right. It is similar to the Ostrich effect, the apparent avoidance of risky situations by pretending they do not exist. (The name comes from the common legend that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger.
Having a strong normalcy bias will prevent someone from preparing or planning for a disaster.
Perhaps the very first survival skill that someone can have is that of eliminating their normalcy bias. The realization that your comfort zone can change, and change rapidly, is the first step towards being adaptable. It is quite impossible to think about or plan for disaster if your mind cannot accept that it could actually happen.
People are creatures of habit. We go to work the same way every day. Our routines are nearly the same (the weekday routine and the weekend routine). We tend to do everything the same or similar way we did the last time. Think about the things that you do in your life – in a given week, most of you do the same things from week to week, even with the same schedule. It’s just the way it is.
It goes against the grain to think or act beyond our ‘normalcy’. I can tell you though, that once you break through that way of thinking, it is exciting (and can be a bit scary) to get outside of your comfort zone. It is only then that you can truly begin to realize what is happening outside of your bubble, as well as the risks (and opportunities) that are present there.
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