Normalcy Bias

You have just finished a long and exhausting day at work.  You walk to your car, start the engine and pull out of the parking lot.  Your next conscious thought is opening your garage door while pulling in to your driveway.  You drove all the way home and have no recollection of the journey.  You have just experienced a type of Normalcy Bias.

Human beings get caught in subconscious “cycles" and do the same types of things every single day.  We enter a psychological state where we can operate on “auto pilot” and do the same tasks day after day with little thought.  When we go out in public, we are generally not focused on our surroundings.  We are focused on spending time with family and friends and sometimes miss critical events taking place right in front of us.

You go to see a movie at the local cineplex.  Most humans enter through the front doors of the theater and after the movie is over, they leave through the same doors to return to their vehicles.  If we go to a restaurant with our loved ones, we enter the front doors, have our meal and leave through the same doors we entered through.  We are generally not aware of other entry or exit points in these public places.

What do we do if a stressful, life threatening event takes place while we’re out with our families?  Most people have not thought about what they would do under stress and find that they are unsure what to do.  Most people will revert to their “normalcy bias” and try to escape the stressful situation thought the same doors they entered through…. Even if there is an emergency exit 10 feet to their left.

Since most people go through life without ever being placed in a life or death situation, they do not mentally prepare for the worst case scenario.  Normalcy Bias is a psychological state of denial that people enter into during a crisis situation.  They underestimate the possibility of the crisis actually happening, and its effects on their life or property.  Their denial is based upon the assumption that if the crisis situation has not happened up until now, it will never occur.

Normalcy Bias is a survival mechanism in our brain that can place us in grave danger when we are faced with a crisis situation.  Simply put, it causes our brain to believe that “everything is okay.”  We believe everything will eventually return to normal, even in a crisis situation.

This explains why so many Jews continued living in Germany, even after hundreds of thousands of Jews were being murdered by the Nazis.  Discriminatory laws had been passed and Jews were being hunted and killed daily.  For many affluent Jews, life had been so good for so long, they believed that surely things would get better.  Jews who could have easily afforded to move out of Nazi Germany stayed, and perished.  Why? Because of Normalcy Bias.

How do we begin to combat this phenomena?  With the experts at Tekton Safety Consulting who have been teaching fundamental concepts for years, we help you develop the skills to prepare for the abnormal, whenever it happens, wherever it might happen.